Today's post is by Dave Kurlan, founder and CEO of Objective Management Group Inc. and Kurlan & Associates, and author of Mindless Selling and Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball.
We receive a lot of requests from companies looking to provide sales training that may be unnecessary – or may just be for a symptom of the issue they actually need to be trained for. Requests like training for negotiating skills or time management. While there may certainly be a few disorganized people on the sales team, in the case of time management, it is almost always a symptom of something else. Why put an entire team through training on a topic for which most of them don’t need any help?
Instead of Time Management Training…
In the case of time management training, I like to ask what is required of salespeople that they never seem to have enough time to complete. Can you guess? It’s always the same answer.
It’s prospecting – and it is not so much a time management problem as it is a call reluctance problem. Training might not be the answer to that problem, either. Though training would surely help with ineffective prospecting, call reluctance is the result of four potential sales DNA weaknesses:
- Need to be liked
- Difficulty recovering from rejection
- Dislike of or unwillingness to make cold calls
- Procrastination from perfectionism
Any combination of these four weaknesses can cause everything from delayed starts to outright refusal of prospecting activities. Effective sales coaching can help, but, more often, the solution is to put salespeople like this in a more appropriate role – like account management – or have a top-of-the-funnel team set appointments and meetings for them.
Instead of Negotiation Training…
If a time management problem is often call reluctance in disguise, what could cause a need for better negotiation skills?
This symptom is usually the result of:
- Ineffective or inconsistent sales process
- Failure to thoroughly qualify the opportunity – especially on budget and terms
- Failure to establish that the customer will pay more to do business with you
- Failure to uncover a compelling reason to buy from you
- Failure to establish yourself as a trusted advisor
- Failure to quantify their compelling reason
- Failure to create urgency
- Failure get agreement on your solution
- Failure to get verbal agreement on your proposal prior to writing the proposal
When any combination of these milestones is missed – and they are often missed – it leads to proposals and/or quotes that rely on guesswork instead of facts, assumptions instead of agreements, and hope instead of acceptance. When salespeople send proposals to their prospects, they hope the proposal will do the selling for them, but it causes one of four things to happen instead.
- The proposal is not responded to and the salesperson goes into chase mode
- The salesperson is told the price is too high and is invited to revise it
- The salesperson is told the prospect is interested but the proposal needs to be modified relative to pricing, terms, etc.
- The proposal is accepted
Prospects use scenario number 2 as leverage to drive down prices of their preferred vendor – your competitor – while scenario number 3 causes executives to believe their salespeople require better negotiating skills.
If salespeople can learn to sell the proper way, they would never be in a scenario where negotiation skills are even required. To read more on this topic, check out this blog.