The Gaps Discussion Continued

In my last post I talked about the five gaps that I believe are impeding salespeople from reaching their goals. The most critical to resolve of these gaps requires a change in thinking and mindset. Until that happens, until salespeople and their management come to accept that the way that we need to sell today has changed, they will continue to wonder why they aren’t hitting their goals.

Adapt – If we know that buyers start the sales process without salespeople when they have a business problem to solve (and a variety of sources like GartnerSirius Decisions and others back this up), then salespeople need to have strong, compelling, visible presence on the web but especially LinkedIn if they are B2B. Moreover, they need to be actively sharing real-time, relevant information that adds value for prospects in advance of sales opportunities.

Leverage – Salespeople are not leveraging technology (LinkedIn, InsideView, etc.) before making a call to a prospect or even to reconnect with a client that has done business with them in the past. They are not using real-time data and the social web to look for triggers or events that would indicate a need to solve a business problem. Instead, they are trying to secure that phone call or face-to-face meeting blind with their goal being to present features and benefits. They make phone calls or go into meetings asking questions that they should already know the answer to. They are not demonstrating the traits of a “trusted advisor”, so to today’s buyer they look like any other vendor.

Research – Cold calling. Really? Don’t even get me started. I’m on the receiving end of a lot of it and it is awful. Canned or scripted phone calls and emails fall on deaf ears, but salespeople keep doing it. InsideView says that 92% of the time the phone call and email is ignored if the buyer doesn’t know the person. Why do it when there are better, more effective ways to invest time? An Inc.com post yesterday, laid out a cold calling script that they claim gets results. While better written and classier than most that I’ve seen, I wonder what would happen if the rep actually did a little homework to know more about the business they were calling. Even a well written script that is one-sided and about what you want rather than what your prospect cares about is still not a good approach.

Qualify – Too many salespeople give everyone an equal amount of attention when they should be qualifying who has the greatest potential for business now and in the near term. Just because someone took your call doesn’t mean they are qualified to buy or that they are even the relevant decision maker. Smart salespeople learn to ask the right questions to determine if a real opportunity actually exists and they make sure that they are talking to the real buyer. Someone may have a budget, they may have what appears to be the right title, but finding out who really owns the decision is critical. Time is precious. Spend it wisely.

Engage…or not – Salespeople get really excited when they reach someone and chat a few minutes and that person says, “send me a proposal”. Me, I’m not turning cartwheels. Generally, if that’s the case, it is likely too late in the game and someone else is the front runner. Proposals take a lot of work, so salespeople should know they have a real shot at winning before investing their time. Do you really want to spend all that time only to have your work used to negotiate a better deal with your competitor? Our Sales Opportunity Snapshot training and coaching helps to resolve gaps #4 and #5. It’s basically a process and methodology for asking the right questions to determine whether the opportunity is qualified and/or worth investing time in at all.

Buyer 2.0 has spoken. They are tired of gimmicks and scripted sales pitches. They want relevance. They want you to know their business. They want you to add value.

I’m asking again…are you listening?

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