I am really tired of salespeople acting like a tired old porch dog. They are sitting on the sales porch, waiting for the prospects to contact them. They’ve repeatedly heard the message that the buyer is 67 percent of the way through the buying process by the time he/she contacts a salesperson. Hearing this message over and over again has resulted in three selling behaviors.
- Reactive salespeople – I just need to wait for the prospect to contact me. They don’t want to hear from a salesperson until they’ve done all their research.
- Transactional salespeople – I’ll need to lower my price because the prospect is so well-educated, they really don’t need my expertise.
- Excuse salespeople – Today’s buyer is more educated. It’s a lot tougher to sell in today’s market.
Let’s dispel all of these myths by starting with some great data from SiriusDecisions, a leading global business-to-business research and advisory firm.
Its 2015 B-to-B Buying Study examined the buying behaviors of more than 1,000 B-to-B executives. It found that more than half the time, a salesperson’s involvement with a prospect starts at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.
Lesson for salespeople – Stop waiting for inbound leads and the phone to ring. Do what effective salespeople have done for 50 years. Get ahead of the opportunity and be the salesperson that creates the first sales conversation rather than wait for the prospect to initiate.
This study also showed that the highest level of buyer/seller interaction for all buying scenarios occurred during the education phase of the buyer’s journey, often the first selling stage in a purchasing decision.
Lesson for salespeople – Educate your prospects. However, don’t confuse educating with a badly disguised product dump. Part of education is slowing down prospects and making them think. What is the real problem they are trying to solve? Often the presenting problem isn’t the real problem.
For example, in the sales training business, a vice president of sales believes he has a closing issue. Instead of moving into an educational presentation, we ask a series of questions. And, both parties often arrive at a different conclusion. This sales team doesn’t have a closing issue, it has a target issue. Its members are calling on the wrong type of prospect. The late Zig Ziglar couldn’t even close these deals!