Here at Criteria for Success, we’re big fans of a clean slate in the New Year. So in that spirit, here are our 5 New Year’s Resolutions for salespeople to up their selling ability in the year to come.
5 New Year’s Resolutions for Salespeople
1. Cut out the head trash.
You know, that little voice in your head saying “I’ll never make this sale”, “My prospect’s not interested”, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” These are all deal-killers controlled by one and only one thing: your brain.
Don’t let your head trash get in the way of following your sales plan. Your quota or KPIs will still be there waiting for you at the end of the day, even if you spent the day worrying about whether you could meet your goals.
Our technique for dealing with head trash is to let it in, acknowledge it, and let it go. Your little voice is never going away, but you can overcome it and take action anyway. Just follow your plan and you’ll do fine.
2. Don’t let your buyer set the agenda.
The typical buyer’s agenda is not salesperson-friendly. Most buyers don’t like being sold (who does?), so a buyer’s agenda is set up to keep the power in the buyer’s corner and help them avoid “sales traps.”
The thing is, if you’re in a meeting with a well-vetted lead, you’re selling them something they actually want – or need. So the buyer’s agenda is actually counterproductive for both sides: the buyer loses an opportunity to learn about a product or service that would benefit them, and the salesperson loses the sale.
Instead, frame your sales meetings for mutual benefit. Talk about next steps up front: “Providing you want to move forward after our conversation today, what would be the next steps?” Then have a conversation about their needs and fears. This will inform your presentation, which takes place – counter-intuitively – at the end of the call.
3. Don’t take “I’ll think about it” for an answer.
“I’ll think about it” is your buyer’s way of avoiding saying “no.” Most people don’t like to say no – they don’t want to let us down, or hurt our feelings, or make us feel like they’ve wasted our time. The problem is, “I’ll think about it” wastes our time, energy and emotions even more than “no” would. With “no,” we can clear out that deal and move on.
So in 2014, don’t let “I’ll think about it” string you along. Ask for concrete next steps, a referral, or an acknowledgement of “not a fit.” This will free you up to follow the most promising leads toward the best and biggest wins.
4. Go negative.
Most salespeople like to talk about how great their product or service is – all its benefits, accolades, and value. The problem with this approach is it’s all about you, when a really successful sales pitch is focused on what the customer cares about.
In our experience, people are more motivated to move away from pain than toward pleasure. In other words, it’s all well and good to paint a beautiful picture of the world your prospect could live in if only they chose your service – but what’s motivating them to get there?
If you emphasize the negative as it relates to your prospect’s problems, you will touch off pain triggers that will motivate your prospect to act. Don’t forget: problems are negative. For example: “We help companies that are not growing fast enough activate their sales organizations to drive revenue.” The phrase “not growing fast enough” reflects pain the salesperson heard from the prospect, and immediately resonates.
5. Share success with your team.
An old cliché of selling is “every man for himself.” If you share your secret sauce with your neighbor, maybe she’ll go out and take all the hot leads out from under you! Most of us know by now that selling is no longer a zero-sum game. Another way to put it is “a rising tide lifts all boats” – or, “we’re all in this together.”
If your company is struggling to grow, getting best practices out of your top performers’ heads and into a space where everyone can benefit – a Sales PlayBook, perhaps – would be a great way to kick off the New Year and put some of those New Year’s Resolutions for salespeople to work.