Your Sales Team Is Frightened

Mastering the sales process is the key to managing the unpredictability of the sales profession. 

By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals

Know your sales pipeline for great results. 

For most managers, the thoughts that the majority of their sales team is frightened is disconcerting. What are they frightened of? They fear what they don’t understand. They fear the sales process. Most sales managers and trainers know instinctively that fear is the death of a sale, so getting to the source of your sales teams fears is a top priority. The problem is that while many salespeople are proficient in their product and in talking with customers, many of them fail to grasp the big picture of sales success. That big picture is the sales funnel. 

Those of us who have succeeded in the world of sales underwent a long learning curve where we learned the techniques of the trade, from needs analysis to close. What we also learned is that it's possible to be good at closing sales and yet still encounter dry periods, where we have deals in the works, but nothing ready to close. When paid on commission, not having control over how many deals you’re closing per pay period is an  worrying thing. For those of us who’ve decided to make sales a career, we eventually learned how to manage this uncertainty by producing  consistent results week in and week out. After all, the rent isn’t waiting. 

Understanding your particular sales pipeline requires taking a step back from the day to day action. More often than not, when a sales funnel runs dry, it’s because you had a hot streak not too long ago and there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to follow up and engage new prospects. To truly understand it, you need to break the process down into individual steps. The sales profession is getting increasingly complicated as customers become more informed and as competition increases. This complexity means that it doesn’t always work to drive straight to the close with single-minded determination. Instead, a sale needs shepherding through the baby steps that move it in the right direction. 

Learn how to build and manage a sales funnel

Know what's in your sales pipeline to produce consistent sales results.

Know what's in your sales pipeline to produce consistent sales results.

By not asking for everything all at once, a salesperson is allowing time for a trust-based relationship to develop. Furthermore, instead of coming to an all or nothing, yes or no, moment, acquiescence can be gained gradually increasing the likelihood of not only a yes, but of a long post-purchase relationship. Even if at the point of purchase, the answer is no, there’s still enough of a foundation in place that the door is open to try again at a later time. 

By understanding the framework that they exist in with their customers, salespeople are able to know no only what they can expect to close this week, but next week and next month. Adding structure to the sales process turns sales success from random luck to a structured and methodical activity capable of yielding predictable results. Once this is done, the vast earning potential of uncapped commissions can be unlocked. 

The members of your sales team are frightened. They’ve been turned loose and told to own their shop, and they’ve been given the rewards and the risks accordingly. Now it’s time to equip them to be successful, not just in front of the customer, but day in and day out as sales professionals. Remember, sales is our craft. Creating a sales funnel that functions as a well-oiled machine is not just good for sales reps, but for the entire company. 

Get the eBook and learn how to turn your sales team into a Growth Engine

Challenging Relationships To Buy

Building relationships in sales is not enough. You need to challenge them to buy. 

By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals

Push beyond relationship building to relationship working

From consultative selling to the hard close, sales methodology comes in fads. Most of the methods that have been presented over the years amount to techniques rather than an overall selling style. Being successful in the sales profession requires a well-rounded understanding of a number of techniques and the ability to apply them while in the midst of a sales call. In my experience successfully closing the sale required rapidly pivoting on which benefits I emphasized or in which techniques I used to influence the conversation. Style and technique aside, though, the dialogue around sales theory revolves around the role of the relationship between buyer and seller.

On one end of the spectrum, some of the more completely consultative approaches emphasize the client relationship above everything else in the sales process. These philosophies put the sales person on a path to become one with the needs of their client. Indisputably, understanding and addressing their needs and concerns is central to retaining a base of satisfied customers. However, completing the sale requires moving beyond information gathering. Going from discovery to conversion requires a willingness to start challenging their assumptions.

At a fundamental level, selling involves tension. Without a certain amount of stress, there is no imperative to change from their current situation. Selling requires either manufacturing or bringing to light tensions that the prospect may have in their present situation. Conventional wisdom suggests that the prospect is moved from their current position towards a purchase out of stressors in their existing situation as well as fear of missing out on opportunities that will yield benefits down the road.

Learn how to organize a sales funnel to move prospects towards buying. 

The stress that is required to move a prospect forward is rarely a pleasant thing for a prospect to endure. It is not enough for a seller to exclusively play the “nice guy”. Instead, a sales professional needs to be able use their relationship to guide the prospect through these stresses towards the desired outcome. Successfully doing this means having a willingness to push the buyer to confront the reality of their current situation and experience the fear of not acting on the information presented to them. 

Move your relationship to become a sale

In contrast to the success seen be sales reps willing to challenge their prospects assumptions, Harvard Business Review notes that it is sales reps who are categorized as relationship builders who are the weakest performers. Their exclusive focus on client relationships makes them less willing to jeopardize them by asserting a position, even if that position is exactly what the prospect needs to take their business to the next level. In this dynamic, we’re reminded that selling is not about relationships, so much as relationships that do work. In sales, developing relationships only become useful when they progress down the sales pipeline toward becoming a client.

Next time you develop a relationship with a prospective client, consider what that relationship is worth and from where that value derives. Will you be besties? Not likely, and that’s okay. However, if you're willing to diligently learn their needs and present the right solution without wavering, then you just might end up with a new client.  

See how 8th Light deployed the right solution for their business with this case study


2 Minutes to Value and Increased Sales for 8th Light After a Lightning Deploy of PipelineDeals

We live to help our clients hit the ground running. 8th Light is a custom software consultancy with plenty of rapid deployments on their plate without worrying about their CRM. After a lightning fast roll out of their new CRM system, they were back to closing deals and deploying custom software.

Get the case study here and see how they got back to business.

PipelineDeals is simple, clear, and concise. It’s not bogged down with a lot of extra noise. It was very difficult to get compliance with previous tools. Now we’re capturing all the information we need in one system that’s easy to access. That in and of itself is transformative.

— - Margaret Pagel, 8th Light VP of Sales and Marketing

When 8th Light made the decision to change CRM platforms, they were already in the enviable position of being a well respected and quickly expanding brand. They challenge they needed to overcome was laying a foundation to support their rapid growth. With PipelineDeals, they were able to get their sales team all on the same platform and running from the same playbook.

From sales reps to managers, everyone is now able to access the data they need and make decisions based on their sales pipeline. 8th Light now has a single source of information that employees can access anytime they need client information.

Get the case study here and see how they got back to business.