By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
The movie 127 Hours relates the true story of Aron Ralston, a canyoneer who was trapped in a cave. He made the choice to survive by amputating his right arm. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Thankfully most surgeries occur in medical facilities with qualified doctors.
DIY projects starting at Home Depot are everyday events. How often have you seen jobs around a house where professionals should have been used? Unqualified people deliver disappointing results. Fortunately, most projects aren’t life or death as Mr. Ralston’s was. I’d like to discuss a DIY project that happens within organizations.
People without sales experience don’t understand how hard it is to sell offerings to enterprises and deal with the different agendas of buying committee members. How many times have you heard someone say their son or daughter is unsure of what career to pursue, but has a “nice way with people” so Sales might be a good option? People thinking that’s the critical skill needed are in for a rude awakening.
Learning to sell is humbling. I’m grateful there are no tapes of calls made early in my career. Sellers soon realize they have influence without authority in trying to have buyers decide to spend money. New salespeople have to power through making bad calls and hopefully learn from their mistakes. Common flaws rookie sellers exhibit:
- They mention product early and struggle when buyers ask: “How much?”
- They are comfortable calling low where buyers are most interested in product. Even if early calls go well the sales cycle becomes a bottom-up mountain where most people can say no but can’t say yes to spending money.
- New sellers struggle to relate to executives:
- Discussing business issues is out of their comfort zone.
- They try to “educate” buyers about their offerings.
- Dealing with committee members with different objectives/agendas is difficult
- They are unsure how to provide buyers a high level understanding of how their offerings can be used to improve business outcomes.
- They can’t provide a cost vs. benefit to justify expenditures.
Leveraging the Internet and social networking allows buyers to proceed further along in buying processes before involving salespeople. But who are these “buyers?” I hope you agree few senior executives spend a great deal of time visiting multiple vendor websites to research offerings. The majority of such research is done by mid to lower levels within organizations that can’t authorize unbudgeted initiatives.
When research leads to belief that an offering should be considered, isn’t internal selling to upper levels of management required? Won’t a person that has done the research struggle even more than inexperienced professional salespeople in trying to sell an offering? Some of the challenges they face include:
- Prematurely mentioning product and price?
- Climbing up the organization in talking with may buyers that can’t say yes but can say no?
- Relating offerings to internal buyers that have different objectives?
- Discussing business issues that are out of their comfort zones?
- Trying to “educate” buyers about their offerings?
- Providing a high level understanding of how offerings can be used to improve business outcomes?
- Creating a compelling cost vs. benefit to justify expenditures?
Through all of this, internal sellers have the inherent disadvantage of being subordinates to the people they are trying to sell. If and when challenged by superiors they have no real-world experience to address concerns and no results other companies have achieved to offer.
Reality: Many sellers (professional and internal) don’t realize time can be wasted if early in buying cycles they fail to establish potential value of business outcomes (goals) that can be achieved through the use of an offering from a level that can allocate unbudgeted initiatives.
Selling is a challenging DIY endeavor. A large percentage of evaluations started at low levels without the involvement of a competent salesperson are destined to become fishing expeditions that result in organizations deciding not to authorize expenditures. Following a sales process, you can sell better and more effectively. Don’t do it alone. Take a look at the sales training workshops available to you.