Today I coached a salesperson who thought he had call reluctance although I didn’t really agree. He was finding a way to push through, making calls – although not as many as he should. He needs to be liked but since he also needs his boss to like him he makes the calls in order to get that love. He needs his prospects to like him but can’t get that to happen unless he gets prospects on the phone and impresses them. So, he actually has reason to pick up the phone and make calls, therefore, no call reluctance.
I wondered whether he loved selling – enough.
I wondered whether he was committed – fully and unconditionally.
I wondered whether it was something else entirely…
The reason I’m bringing this up is that in most companies, when certain stages of the sales process are not being executed as they should, executives often don’t know why. That’s one of the many reasons why we evaluate Sales Forces – to identify root causes of the known (and unknown) challenges. The second reason is that problems are often misidentified. For example, half of the calls and emails that come in each day are about getting trained on closing skills, even though closing skills are almost never the reason why salespeople fail to close sales. With sales and salespeople, you need to work backwards from what you know, ask many “could it be?” questions to identify the real problem, and more importantly, the root cause of the problem.
For instance, problems with closing (delays, put-offs, losses to the competition, pricing, etc.) could happen for any or all of the following reasons:
- Not a qualified opportunity – but how would the salesperson know since most salespeople skip qualifying altogether, but especially qualifying around money and decision making. Only 30% of all salespeople have the Qualifier Competency as a strength.
- Salesperson did not present an ideal solution. The solution was what the salesperson wanted to sell, more than what the prospect needed to solve a problem within a specific budget.
- Lack of urgency – You know all those deals that get closed at the end of months and quarters and years? You know how they have to be discounted to get done? It’s because there was no urgency on the part of the prospect.
- Salesperson did not create/build value – Only 40% of all salespeople have the Value Seller Competency as a strength and most people don’t even know what their value proposition is, never mind how to put that into action.
- No compelling reasons to buy – Only 15% of all salespeople have the Consultative Seller Competency as a strength. Since value selling doesn’t work on its own, and requires a consultative approach, this really means that only 15% are fully able to sell value. Compelling reasons and urgency go hand and hand. It means that a salesperson must get the prospect from “Nice to Have” to “Must Have.” For most salespeople, that rarely happens.
- Lack of posturing – posturing includes things like first impressions, being memorable, having the prospect’s ear, differentiating and empathizing. Only 48% of all salespeople have Posturing as a strength.
- Timeline misunderstood – Most salespeople work on their own timeline, never recognizing that the sale will happen on the prospect’s timeline. A salesperson can influence the timeline, but only if they were successful in creating urgency,
- Not selling to the correct person – salespeople get an audience with the final decision maker are 341% more likely to close the business. Unfortunately, only half of all salespeople have Reaching Decision Makers as a strength.
- Salespeople don’t have enough opportunities in their pipelines, so they continue to work on the lousy opportunities too. Sometimes that’s easier than having to find a new opportunity.
- Salespeople presented too early in the process and then went into chase mode. This is a by product of not following a solid, optimized, milestone-centric sales process. The earlier a salesperson presents, the more likely it is that they will never get their prospect past nice to have, reach a decision maker, get money approved and reach the closable stage of the sales process.
These are the top ten reasons, not the only reasons! There are more; plenty more.
Even if you identify which of the reasons are responsible for the closing problem or challenge, you must go through that same process and identify 10 more possible causes for each reason – and go through that process repeatedly until you have identified the root problem. The root problem will probably have nothing to do with selling skills, and most likely be found in Sales DNA – the combination of strengths that support sales process, sales strategy, sales tactics, and sales methodology. Of course, if they present as weaknesses instead of strengths, that is ultimately where the work needs to take place!