I opened my business in 2002—an idiotic time to do this. The dot-com bubble had burst and 9/11 had shaken the planet. The world was in turmoil. But I was on a mission. I had worked with, led, and mentored salespeople for over two decades. And I noticed talented sellers and business owners slam into a wall of frustration daily as the rapid advances of technology changed the way people communicate, do business, and buy. The world of sales was shifting, but they weren’t.
Fast-forward to 2018. Now there’s no shortage of books, webinars, blogs, infographics, videos, and websites to guide you through the individual steps of the sales process, to explain the intricacies of a complex sale, or demystify the world of social selling. But something is missing. Because, despite all of this sage advice, I continue to hear the same questions from sellers across industries and geographies:
- How do I stand out when my competitor claims the exact same benefits?
- How do I get in front of new buyers faster?
- How do I make the prospecting process more comfortable for me? And for the buyer?
- How do I loosen the stranglehold of an established supplier?
- How do I convert more leads into sales?
- How do I make the sale without dropping my price?
- How do I get the important stuff done with only twenty-four hours in a day?
How is it possible that these questions remain unanswered?
For starters, most sales advice focuses on “what” sellers should do. This has created a profession of “doers,” many of whom are really smart people running around doing extraordinarily dumb things. And pressure from the boss to make more calls, get more meetings, and close more sales only adds to the insanity. Others are simply stuck in a rut. Doing what they’ve always done. Doing what the competition does. Mistaking the side of that rut for the horizon.
On the one hand, salespeople, we’ve never had it so good. We have a growing smorgasbord of social channels through which we are able to locate, connect with, and learn about desirable prospects. We have technologies that help us capture, organize, and leverage customer data to grow existing accounts and engage new ones.
On the other hand, buyers have become increasingly distrustful of sellers. E-mails and pitches claiming to grow revenues, reduce costs, or improve productivity are viewed as spam or seen as yet another slick marketing ploy with no real substance to back it up.
If your prospects are happy with the status quo, they have multiple ways to avoid interacting with you. And when it’s time for a buyer to engage with a seller, she’s already performed her own due diligence and, right or wrong, has formed an impression of you, your company, and your offering long before you talk.
Selling isn’t rocket science. It is common sense. The problem with common sense is that it’s regularly missing in action, and doing dumb things costs you time, energy, and business. The net results are slower sales cycles, profit-crushing negotiations, and lost deals, all of which hit your company’s bottom line—and your own.
The fundamental truth is this: Your results are driven by your actions. Your actions are driven by how you think. When you change how you think, you change your results—it’s all uncommon sense.
Excerpted from Uncommon Sense: Shift Your Thinking, Take New Action, Boost Your Sales, by Jill Harrington.