Missed sales forecasts happen for a variety of reasons, one being the feared condition of go-along-to-get-along-itis. This affliction is the avoidance of identifying the sales elephant in the room, which results in unqualified opportunities in the sales pipeline and writing practice proposals for prospects that are never going to buy.
If you’ve been in sales long enough, you’ve probably authored a few practice proposals. I certainly know that I’ve penned a few of these documents because salespeople fall into the trap of:
For example, go-along-to-get-along-itis can happen after a great sales meeting. The salesperson asks provocative sales questions, delivers compelling insights and builds trust with the prospect, except for one thing: Denial.
The reality is that the prospect’s answers didn’t line up with your ideal client profile.
The prospect had no compelling event or reason to invest time or money in making a change.
There was no strategic or financial implication if the prospect took no action.
And when a salesperson asked about budget, the prospect responded with, “I have no idea. We don’t really have a budget for this.”
But alas, when the prospect spoke the magic words, “Can you put something together?”, optimism soared - maybe there is an opportunity here – and denial set in.
The go-along-to-get-along selling stage begins.
The salesperson invests hours in creating a solid proposal, only to hear:
- Timing isn’t quite right. (We’re a status quo prospect. Call back in 20 years.)
- Wow, this is more than I expected. (Translation: This is a nice-to-have initiative, not a need-to-have one.)
- Let me run this up the ladder. (There is no ladder. There aren’t even stairs.)
Logically, all of us probably recognized we shouldn’t have invested time in writing this practice proposal. We’ve read the sales books, listened to podcasts and watched all the webinars about qualifying opportunities.
So why is this happening?
It’s because of lack of self-awareness and assertiveness.
Without these two EQ skills, salespeople are unaware of WHY they lack the assertiveness to state what they need nicely. And what they need is to work and invest time with qualified prospects!
They lack the assertiveness to nicely share with the prospect that they are not a good fit at this time.
Here are two solutions that will eliminate get-along-to-go-along-it is:
#1. Effective sales managers and salespeople work to improve self-awareness. With increased awareness, a salesperson realizes they are not being assertive because of FEAR.
- “Well, I don’t want to insult this buyer. But I know she’s not the economic buyer. I’ll go-along-to-get- along to avoid rocking the sales boat.”
- “Well, I don’t want to lose a possible opportunity. I don’t have that much in the pipeline. I’ll go-along- to-get-along instead of asking the tough qualifying questions.”
Next, conduct an informal analysis of previous wins and losses. This will eliminate denial thinking because the data clearly shows you don’t win business unless you meet with all the buying influences. You don’t win business unless you know if a prospect is willing and able to invest time, money and resources.
Fear is replaced by a healthy dose of reality.
#2. Practice. Stating what you need, being assertive, can be difficult. Role play with your peers and sales manager on delivering what you need to say in a way that doesn’t offend a prospect. It might sound like, “Ms. Prospect, I appreciate your interest in our services. However, based on where we do our best work, I will need to set up a meeting with your CMO and CRO, and it sounds like they aren’t willing to meet. What do you suggest we do? Because without their input, I’ll be guessing at the right solutions.”
With increased self-awareness and assertiveness, salespeople state what they need in order to engage in partnership relationships, not vendor, transactional relationships.
How many sales are you losing because you and your sales team are going-along-to-get-along?