by George Brewster, President and Founder of Gimbal Systems
This blog was live-blogged from B2B Tech Sales MeetUp in Seattle, WA on July 30th, 2014. B2B Tech Sales MeetUp is for people looking for actionable strategies in tech sales who want to network and collaborate with sales leaders.
What is your biggest challenge to success in sales today? I believe that one of the biggest challenges to success for salespeople is that they’re walled-off from prospective buyers and they’re unsure how to communicate with leads. Given the ever-expanding number of ways that you can communicate with potential buyers, it’s no wonder that prospecting for new leads feels like trying to drink from a firehose.
In contrast, buyers have never had so much power in the sales process. Potential buyers are no longer dependent upon salespeople to educate them about products or services. They have access to real-time reviews from customers, can trial your competitor’s products or services, and can learn about your history as a salesperson.
While the balance of power in sales has tipped in favor of buyers (and I think that’s a good thing), the negative perception of salespeople as pushy, sleazy, hucksters remains. Why is that? Why have people’s mental models of sales not caught up with the changing reality of the modern sales environment?
If you work in sales, I believe that you can shift your buyer’s mindset in a positive direction by shifting your own mindset. Principally, you need to work to overcome common fears or misperceptions about sales. Below are 4 negative mindsets about sales to change:
1 – I don’t want to be the pushy salesperson – Your buyers don’t want you to be pushy either. However, our fear of being too pushy has led salespeople to be too timid when approaching prospects. Most sales are not made during the initial contact. In fact, most sales are not made during the second, third or fourth contact. Nearly 80% of sales are made after making contact with a prospect between 5 to 12 times.
It’s important to know that there is a distinct difference between being professional persistent (which is a good thing) and spamming your prospects with unwanted messages. When you’re professionally persistent, you add-value at every point of contact and you always have a reason for contacting your prospects. Don’t let your fear of being perceived as pushy interfere with your need to follow-up with prospects.
2 – You have to be an extrovert to be in sales – This is one of the most persistent stereotypes about salespeople. The image of the gregarious, outgoing salesperson is powerful – and probably false. In fact, most studies have shown that there is no definite link between being an extrovert and being successful in sales. The latest research suggests that the best salespeople are able to modulate between extroversion and introversion.
What does this mean for you? If you are an extrovert, your sales challenge may be to act more like an introvert and focus on your listening skills. If you’re an introvert, your challenge is to assert yourself and proactively communicate with potential leads.
3 – I need to know everything in order to sell well – This line of thinking tends to block salespeople’s from taking action and causes people to shy away from tough questions. In truth, salespeople do not need to know everything in order to achieve a sale. When you’re faced with tough questions, attack them head on with your potential buyer and seek solutions. Your product or service may not have everything that a prospect thinks that they need. If you shy away from answering their question though, you’ll almost assuredly guarantee another lost sale.
4 – It’s all about business and closing the deal – this final mindset can be one of the most challenging negative mindsets to overcome in sales. In fact, it’s this fear that you must close a deal at any given opportunity that can causes many salespeople to lose sales. When you’re faced with a stressful situation, how you show-up under duress is critical to your success. Focus on not losing your cool and blowing your buyer out of their seat. If they’re not ready to make a decision yet, think of your next contact as another opportunity to add-value.
One final thought – I think one of the most harmful misperceptions in society today is that people don’t want to be sold. I couldn’t disagree more. People don’t want to be sold a bad deal. They’re wary of the old-school “cavaet emptor” world of sales that placed all of the power in the hands of the salesperson. However, when sales is done right, people absolutely like to be sold to. As a seller, focus on offering genuine value at every step and you’ll make the sales process a delight.
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