For the past few weeks I’ve been having a bit of a weird problem.
There’s a technology I know I want. I’ve done my research. The price is right and the value is there. However, every sales person I’ve spoken with has only dissuaded me.
I’ve looked into three different companies, all offering the same service. Each one of them has failed to convince me I would be dealing with capable, responsive and knowledgeable people. So I started thinking: how is this possible? How can I keep getting sales people that are either indifferent, defensive, or – more often than not – just don’t know the answers to my questions?
In order to provide some buyer feedback for any burgeoning sales people out there and their employers, I’ve put together this short and simple guide on how to sell me what I already want.
To the sales person who kept telling me he doesn’t know
According to Forbes Insight, 58% of buyers report sales people can’t answer their questions. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have a sales person tell me he doesn’t know than lie to me, but best of all, I’d like to get someone who knows enough about the product to speak confidently about it.
My questions aren’t unusual, but they do transcend business, marketing and technical capabilities. So, salespeople and employers, please make sure you’re familiar with your products. It’s disheartening to hear a long “um” at the other end of the line during a sales call.
Maybe the answer is to have more people doing less – assigning each individual less products so that he or she can know them inside and out. That way, when I ask a compatibility question followed by an analytics question, they’ll be able to make me believe this company knows its stuff. Or, since 42% of sales reps report feeling like they do not have the right information before making a sales call, more hands-on training may be the answer. And no, by hands-on training I don’t mean more marketing materials. According to the New Rules of Sales Enablement, 90% of those one-pagers don’t get used.
To the sales person who told me that maybe the product just isn’t for me
Someone once told me that sales people are natural problem solvers. That same person proceeded to put me into a three-day intensive sales training course, which I whined about for weeks. However, today I’m grateful, because he was absolutely right.
Being adaptable and thinking on your feet are key traits of excellent sales people, and constant training keeps you on your toes. Maybe that’s why 91% of salespeople either don’t have or don’t follow a formal customized approach. And if it works for them – great. But sometimes it doesn’t.
Recently, when I voiced concern about certain features of this product that I want during a sales meeting, I was faced with a salesperson that immediately crossed his arms across his chest and told me that if I was worried about that, then maybe this wasn’t for me. The problem here is that when someone presents a problem to a salesperson, that person is usually looking for a solution. Not a stony-faced look of pointed indifference. Salespeople getting defensive is not a pleasant experience and makes the rest of the conversation terse and awkward.
Employers, please provide training for your sales people. Or, if you go out into the field with them, don’t assume you’re a top-notch salesperson just because you manage a team. Your management skills have little to do with your sales skills, so keep them sharp with workshops that (as intuitive as it may seem) train you on how to deal with push back and difficult clients.
To the salesperson who kept changing his pitch
It’s frustrating enough to have to ask the same question several times. It’s even more frustrating to receive several different answers.
I had the experience in the past few weeks of being taken on a whirlwind sales call where I received a bunch of different pitches in a short period of time. Instead of delving deeper into the details and functionalities of the product, or telling any kind of succinct story, I was introduced to the product in a series of different and increasingly confusing ways.
In a world where over 25% of all B2B sales take about seven or more months to close, I do believe that often clients are to blame. However, salespeople need to perfect their pitches and approach with a story. From concept to in-depth analysis, relaying your knowledge to the buyer is the best way I can imagine to make them feel invested and ready to adopt.
Don’t approach a product pitch like a tether around a pole – there’s no need to dance around something you don’t know or don’t want to talk about. Have a strategy. According to DemandGen Report, 90% of business buyers say they’ll find you when they’re ready to buy. That means they want you to assure them. Knowing how to approach them is vital, and when they’re sitting in front of you, they may already be sold.
There’s no such thing as the generic pitch, and trying 10 of them until the buyer agrees with you is not going to work. Getting defensive and giving up isn’t going to work either. And saying (or sounding like) you don’t know? Well, it doesn’t make me (the buyer) feel awesome.
Trace your leads, adjust your methods, and please: learn what it sounds like when all I want you to do is to sell me something I already want.