I’m a huge advocate of practice as it’s the number one way to achieve sales mastery. However, I’m not a big advocate of a certain type of practice which is writing of practice proposals. I’ve penned a few of these time sucking documents and they aren’t fun.
They are downright discouraging.
And they are a waste of time because the time invested in writing a practice proposal is time that could have been invested in calling on new and better opportunities.
It’s time that could have been invested on deepening relationships with existing clients.
So why are there so many practice proposals still being created in the sales profession?
Reason number one. Empty sales pipelines. When a salesperson is staring at an empty sales pipeline, it creates the emotions of desperation and rationalization. It’s easy for a salesperson to start rationalizing bad selling behaviors and bad choices.
“Well, this opportunity doesn’t really match our ideal client profile, however, they really seem interested in working with our company.”
Note: They are interested until they have to sign a contract or give you money.
“I know we always need to meet with the technical buyer; however, I think this opportunity is an exception. The other decision makers are so excited about our services that they will convince the technical buyer to go along with their choice of vendor.”
Note: Hmm…remember hope is not a good selling strategy.
The solution. Apply the EQ skill of self-awareness and recognize when your sales team is defaulting to the hope and denial selling system.
Apply the EQ skill of reality testing. The reality is that it’s time to remind your sales team of the basics of successful prospecting and selling. Basics never sound sexy or new. However, the basics work.
One of the basics is coaching your sales team to set aside a dedicated block of time for business development. It’s called calendar blocking. Teach your team to turn off distractions and turn their full attention to prospecting outreaches.
Which leads to the second solution.
Examine your sales messaging. Your sales team might be great at calendar blocking and reaching out to prospects. However, their sales messaging is old and outdated. It isn’t relevant so voicemails and emails are quickly deleted. Their value propositions aren’t addressing the problems your prospects are experiencing TODAY.
Consistently update your sales messaging so your sales team looks, sounds and is relevant to your prospects.
Reason number two. Reluctance to disqualify prospects. You might be managing a sales team that has full sales pipelines. The problem is that these pipelines are full of unqualified opportunities. Key qualifying steps have not been executed or have been poorly executed. For example:
- A salesperson settles for a vague answer from prospect when asking about budget for products and services. “We don’t know…just put something together.” Fast forward and your salesperson is most likely going to hear this predictable answer upon delivery of recommendations. “This is more than I want to invest.” Practice proposal.
- A salesperson didn’t deal with the sales elephant in the room, the spoken or unspoken objection. As a result, there is too much deal fallout because your sales team avoids holding the tough sales conversation. Practice proposal.
The solution. Develop your sales teams’ soft skills, emotional intelligence skills. Two important skills are assertiveness and empathy.
Stop settling for vague, wishy-washy answers around budget. Role-play with your sales team on being assertive and redirecting the conversation until they get a range of an investment from the prospect.
Role-play with your sales team on how to be nicely assertive when they need to disqualify an opportunity because a prospect is not willing or able to invest in your products and services.
Develop your sales team’s empathy skills. Empathy is the ability to know what someone else is thinking or feeling. It is the key skill in dealing with the objections. Role-play with your sales team so they are comfortable bringing up the uncomfortable, the objections and sales elephant in the room.
Practice is important in the sales profession. However, none of us need more practice in writing practice proposals.