The performance barriers that have the greatest impact on sales success aren't so obvious. These are hidden weaknesses, and when they are present can neutralize one’s strengths and prevent one from adopting and implementing new strategies and tactics that could make a remarkable difference in their results. So here are five of these major sales related weaknesses.
1. Need for Approval. Every manager is aware that this weakness can greatly impede a salesperson’s results, but yet very few address this issue with their sales teams. This weakness comes into play when the salesperson’s need to be liked supersedes the need to be respected, and compels one to focus on comments from the prospect like, “I’m impressed with your knowledge of…,” or “Others have said very positive things about you and your company.” The need for approval can then prevent a salesperson from asking the tough questions because he is afraid that the prospect may become upset. Also, this weakness will compel salespeople to accept “maybes” instead of “no’s” because to them a “no” means that they didn't get their prospect’s approval.
2. Non-Supportive Buy Cycle. This major weakness takes a tremendous amount of open-mindedness from managers and salespeople to accept. There’s close to a 100% mirror-image correlation between the way salespeople buy and the way they sell. If a salesperson is always looking for value and likes to comparison shop or takes a long time to make a purchase, then that salesperson will empathize with a prospect who wants a lower price or wants to think-it-over. In other words, salespeople will accept the same behaviors and excuses from their prospects which they have and use when they make purchases.
3. Limiting and Damaging Beliefs. Every salesperson possesses a collection of beliefs about selling, prospect relationships, the selling process and their self image. Consequently, they behave and react in a manner that is consistent with these beliefs, and this often sabotages desired sales outcomes. For example, if a salesperson believes that prospects are honest, then when a prospect says “we’re going to buy it… we’ll send you a purchase order next week,” the salesperson really wants to believe the prospect and will then hope that nothing prevents this from happening. Conversely, a salesperson may believe that prospects aren't always honest and often hide their real intentions. Then when a prospect makes a statement like this, the salesperson will question the intention, and in an effort to uncover hidden objections will probably respond with, “I’m glad to hear you want to buy, but what might prevent the purchase order from being cut and mailed?”
4. Getting Emotionally Involved. Instead of remaining calm and collected when a prospect says the price is too high or raises objections, many salespeople begin to worry or even panic. Some begin to 'strategize on the fly', get creative, become analytical, or get excited. Emotional involvement prevents salespeople from actually listening to the objection and addressing the questions or concerns directly.
5. Discomfort Talking About Money. During childhood most of us were taught that it was impolite to talk about money, and that money was very private. And now, in our adult lives, we are carrying those messages. Pamela York Klainer, a career coach who was interviewed for Fast Company magazine said that “most people consider it distasteful to talk about money and it’s seen as especially distasteful to talk about our feelings about money.” When salespeople have discomfort talking about money, they find it extremely difficult to uncover the real budget, and ask where more money can come from and when it will be available. This weakness has an even greater impact when prospects feel that money is their trump card, and they resist having in-depth financial conversations.
In subsequent issues I will elaborate on each one of these major weaknesses and provide some practical approaches for dealing with these obstacles to sales success.
Reach out to Ken Smith with any questions. Call 301-590-8700, ext.101, or email firstname.lastname@example.org