Do You Really Believe That?

By Colleen Stanley

SalesLeadership, Inc.

The self help guru’s are the best at teaching, “You are what you believe. Your thoughts determine your outcomes and actions. And what you think about most will manifest in your life.”
These guru’s are right and many salespeople and sale managers still subscribing to old beliefs and ways of selling do not serve them well in the information age.

Prospects are smarter, well armed with information and detect sales techniques quickly. They don’t enjoy sales meetings that seem like a role play. Prospects want salespeople that are the real deal and real smart.

Here are three beliefs to check and change if you’d like to enjoy better results from sales in 2012.

#1: You can only expect people to stay with your company for a short amount of time. Business owners and sales managers are told by the experts that the alphabet generation, X, Y, and M (millennials), are different than the boomers. They are motivated to stay in a position for only two years. Then they will move onto the next opportunity and throughout their career enjoy approximately 14 different jobs.

Here’s a tip that will make you money immediately. Let your competitor hire this traveling group of salespeople. The numbers show that a short tenure by a salesperson is not a profitable business model.

Let’s walk through the numbers. You hire a new salesperson and even with the best on-boarding and training process, it takes about six months to get her up to speed. She must learn the business, fill the sales pipeline and close business. According to the job hopping experts, you now only have one and half years for that salesperson to produce revenue for your company before moving on. The formula doesn’t make sense. Most top sales producers hit their stride after two years. By then, they’ve built relationships, referrals are coming in and repeat business is in place.

Look around at the most successful people you know. Are they job hoppers or job committers? Bill Gates, Warren Buffet……even Mark Zuckerberg. What would have happened to Facebook if Zuckerberg would have followed the trend to explore another opportunity after two years? You can bet they wouldn’t be getting ready for one of the country’s biggest IPO’s.

Business owners: Don’t lower your expectations or standards. There are salespeople out there, of all generations, with longevity in their resume. Change your beliefs and expectations. You will be amazed at who shows up at your company’s door step.

#2: Buyers are Liars: This belief creates an interesting scenario for a sales professional. How in the world does a salesperson build a relationship with someone he has profiled as a “liar?”

Prospects aren’t liars–they’re just tired, really tired. They’re worn out from outdated selling techniques that create stupid conversations. For example, many salespeople have been taught to ask leading questions. “So, Mr. Prospect, if we could save you money, would you want to?” The question is not only outdated, it’s an insult to a prospect’s intelligence. What is the prospect supposed to reply? “No, we are proactively planning to lose money in that same area again this year.”

Another reason that prospects get labeled liars is because salespeople have been taught to overcome the objection. Prior experience has taught the prospect that when he says no, the salesperson moves into overdrive and starts overcoming the objection. They offer up trial closes, assumptive closes, and the mother-in-law close. (You’ll have to think about that one.)

So instead of telling the salesperson the truth, prospects says, “I need to think it over.” In 2012, ask for the truth and then be ready for the truth. Don’t force your prospects to lie to you. Let your prospects know that giving you a “no” is actually a gift because it saves you time and money from writing a practice proposal.

#3: ABC: Always Be Closing
Now that’s a sales meeting a prospect can look forward to. It sounds like this. The prospect meets with a salesperson, decides to be vulnerable and opens up about a challenge. The salesperson hears the problem and translates it to a buying signal.

She jumps on the challenge like a sumo wrestler and does a trial close. “Wouldn’t you agree that some of solutions we offer would solve this problem?” (Does anyone talk like this at home?) The prospect recognizes a set-up question and closes down.

The skilled sales professional avoids leading questions like and trial closes like, “Wouldn’t you agree….?” They are students of neuroscience and emotional intelligence. They understand that leading questions create a biological reaction in the prospect. (Yes, biology 101 is now part of an effective sales meeting.)

Here’s how it works. There is a part of the brain called the amygdala, often referred to as the old brain. Under pressure, the old brain goes into fight or flight mode. The prospect either gets hostile, (fight) or ends the meeting early, (flight). Neither reaction is a good way to end a sales meeting.

Real world sales professionals aren’t always closing. What they are doing is always opening up conversation by asking questions and not offering up solutions quickly. The old brain calms down and a smart, peer to peer sales meeting happens.

Get rid of old beliefs and outdated sales techniques. The new economy demands a new approach and philosophy in sales.