Sales and the Financial Hangover

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: October 13, 2009

The financial meltdown of recent months has changed the way sales organizations must approach the market and their prospects. It’s similar to a hangover that lingers long after the party is over.

This meltdown is different than the ‘dot com crash’ or even the disaster of 9/11 because the ramifications hit personal checkbooks and upset the norm. People who played by the rules of saving and living within their means got clobbered right along with those not playing by the rules.

Here are three questions your sales team needs to be prepared to answer in order to capture their fair share of the recovery:

#1: Why you?
The prospect is wondering if you are really any better than the next guy. Is low price is the way to go? To respond to this question, your sales team needs to take a closer look at the answer - which is your value proposition.

In working with hundreds of sales teams, we have found most value propositions to be fairly dismal. Most sales organization design them so they are highly intellectual and are loaded up with benefits that have no emotional connection to the prospect’s problem. It might be time to ‘remodel’ your pitch. In doing so, following these tips:

· Speak in layman’s language. For example, increased productivity (benefit language) should be reframed as: “We work with organizations that have a bunch of people sitting around, not sure what to do, and as a result are missing deadlines.”

· Customize to the prospect and industry. For example, in our business, the words ‘free consulting’ resonate with service providers who sell an intangible. The words ‘price shopping’ and ‘endless quotes’ connect more with mature industries struggling to avoid a transactional sale.

#2: Can I trust you?
401K’s became 201K’s almost overnight. The buy and hold strategy failed for many investors. So who can you trust? What can you trust?

It’s important your sales team is aware of this dynamic and make sure they aren’t showing up to a sales call slick and armed with outdated sales skills. I.e., “If we could show you, would you want to? Would you agree....”

It’s also important that your sales team show up with the most important selling skill of all....intent. Prospects are looking for any misalignment in messaging and messenger. If you are saying one thing and your body language and tonality are saying something else, there is a disconnect that creates mistrust. Most people allow ‘gut’ to play into their decision making. If the ‘gut’ doesn’t say yes, the prospect won’t say yes.

#3: Can you really deliver?
If you are going to focus on teaching or improving one selling skill this year, work on helping your sales team dollarize the cost of the problem or the opportunity. Fluff and stuff is gone. Metrics and return on investment is in. If the salesperson, in partnership with the prospect, can’t put a number to the problem, there is a good chance you will lose to price, the existing vendor, or doing nothing.

The economy is recovering, however, be aware of the financial hangover. Deliver a sales aspirin comprised of answering three questions: why you, can I trust you and can you really deliver?

Good Selling!

Colleen Stanley
Chief Selling Officer, SalesLeadership, Inc.
Creator of the Ei Selling System™