Flip the Sales Process
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
The subject of selling, like any other subject, is full of false information simply because times change. Things that worked yesterday, yesteryear or a century ago may no longer hold true today. When I came into sales some 30 years ago I read everything I could on sales. And whatever the old pros and masters said I should do I took as gospel.
I learned something from all the great sales trainers such as Zig Zigler, Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy and Jeffrey Gitomer. I read all the sales books such as Spin Selling and even the corporate stuff from Books Group, Sandler, Solution Selling, IBM, Janek and others.
The idea from most of them was to control the customer, answer questions with a question and tire the buyer out, and that the more time they spend with you the better off you are and to build value then show your price. I even studied some scams promoting psychological strategies such as matching voice tonality and adapting to personality types.
Related: 3 Steps to Realistic Sales Goals
I have worked with tens of thousands of sales organizations around the world -- the best salespeople and the best teams don’t use tricks. They don’t match tones or personality types and they don’t answer questions with questions or try to control the process. The best salespeople are transparent, honest and stay current with the times, knowing that sooner or later, buyers will see through tricks and scams.
Inside Sales suggests that less than 50 percent of salespeople hit their quota while other surveys suggest the number is 70 percent. Either salespeople are not trained or they're trained incorrectly!
When a person or an entire industry operates with information that is no longer relevant but accepted as truth and then passed along as wisdom your chances at success are reduced. The world is filled with false and outdated information.
Here are some "old" ideas that may be causing you to miss sales because of technological advances:
1. The longer you spend with the customer the better off you are.
Wrong. The longer you spend with the customer the less money you will make, the lower your closing rate and the less you can produce long term. Time is money and the more time you spend with a customer the more likely you will not make the sale. Even in complex sales cycles you should seek to reduce buyer time from greet to close to half the time you normally would.
2. Never discuss price before building value.
This was the old way of pricing a product where the salesperson would build value, then once completing an elaborate presentation, the salesperson would finally present the price.
Years ago I flipped this and would open my sales process with price and then build value to support it. This blew the customer away and allowed me to have more control. The result was shortening the process, which gave me more time to build value.
I have validated this to success with both tangible and intangible sales and on the phone and in person on very simple sales cycles and highly complex, highly competitive multi-million dollar contracts. When you open with the price you appear more transparent, gain the buyer’s full attention and are able to handle price objections while you are demonstrating your solution. I know this is completely counterintuitive but the buyer loves it and it forces your salespeople to confront price.
3. Build rapport and get on common ground.
This sounds great and most would agree, but then how do you explain the explosion of online sales where there is no salesperson doing this? Real rapport building today is assuring buyers you can solve their problems, offer the best value and not waste their time.
4. You can’t sell over the phone.
This is a ridiculous concept held only by cavemen, real-estate brokers, used car salespeople and insurance sales agents. I can buy a jet over the phone. I’ve done million-dollar training contracts over an iPad from 44,000 feet and bought a $58 million real-estate deal over a smartphone while I was outside the country.
As the world evolves so must your sales processes. Exploding online sales should be validation enough that something is shifting in sales in a major way. So whatever sales process you are going to choose, make sure it takes into consideration that times have changed and then commit to it, train on it and use it.