Sales team leaders often complain that their salespeople present solutions too soon and too often. This selling behavior occurs even after a sales manager has taught and reinforced the value of asking questions to discover a prospect’s true needs.
It’s important to teach your sales team a questioning framework in order to properly diagnose a prospect’s goals and challenges. Equally important is teaching your sales team a beginner’s mindset. One problem salespeople face is that as they gain more expertise, they lose their ability to listen. Psychologists call this functional fixedness -- looking at a problem from a familiar viewpoint, which limits a person’s ability to look at new ways of doing things.
When hearing a challenge from a prospect, they immediately think, “Oh, I’ve heard this problem before. I know exactly what this prospect needs to do to solve this issue.”
This thinking results in salespeople presenting ineffective solutions and gaining no new business.
Sales managers, teach your sales team the value of a beginner’s mindset. “Shoshin” is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind." It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.
Here are two sales coaching tools to instill a beginner’s mindset in your sales team.
- Improve your sales team’s self-awareness about this selling challenge. Present a common challenge expressed by prospects, i.e., poor customer service from the existing vendor. Then ask your sales team to design 10 questions to uncover if customer service is the real issue or simply the presenting problem.
- Work on changing your sales team members’ self-limiting belief systems about being the smartest guy or gal in the room. Often, the reason salespeople present solutions too soon is because they are worried about not looking or sounding like an expert. Ask your sales team a few coaching questions to change this behavior.
“When you visit your doctor and share your symptoms, does the doctor immediately prescribe a solution or does the doctor ask more questions?”
“And when the doctor asks more questions, do you think the doctor lacks knowledge and expertise or is conducting a thorough diagnostic in order to prescribe the right solution?”
Teach your sales team members the power of a beginner’s mindset. This mindset helps help salespeople stop presenting solutions too soon and too often.