John O' Gorman

Traditional Sales Skills Can Be Part of The Problem, Not The Solution

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Traditional Sales Skills Are Not Enough

If you are still focused on selling skills, then you are missing the bigger picture.  That is because the role of traditional selling skills in sales success has been sidelined.  A great number of them are outdated and outmoded.  Indeed if you listen to your prospects, they may be the problem, rather than the solution.

Here is a straightforward reality:  Buying has changed.   Selling on the other hand has not.  Indeed, to say that buying has changed is an understatement – this is the era of changed priorities, slashed budgets and stalled projects.  Yet, the sales techniques, or sales training has changed little to reflect these new realities.  Inevitably this has resulted in a widening gap between how buyers buy and how sellers sell.

More traditional selling is not the answer, simply because it is not enough to get buyers to buy.  More of the same in terms of cold calling, sales pitches and proposals is not the solution.  They are not what today’s more sophisticated buyers want.  That means they cannot deliver higher conversion rates, or increased sales success.

But if sales skills are not the number one issue for sales teams at this time, what is?  Well, it is to re-connect how we sell with how our customers now buy.

Selling skills are by definition useless unless they help the buyer to buy.  Sales training courses are providing sellers with the skills and techniques that don’t matter, while overlooking those that do.  That is those that are focused on facilitating the purchase order and that effectively help the buyer to buy.

The challenge for salespeople is to help the buyer to meet the requirements of his, or her internal buying process, to build a compelling business case and to get the support required to ensure that the purchase gets sanctioned.  These are the most effective of selling techniques any sales person could possibly use.  However, despite their potency they are rarely in use.  You won’t find them in sales books, or in sales training seminars.  That is because they focus on buying not selling!

Let your competitors focus on more of the same – cold calling scripts, presentation skills and closing techniques.  Leave them in the dust as you focus on the opposite.  Your sales people need skills in that focus on buying, not selling.  That is skills in 3 vital areas:

  1. Helping the buyer to build a compelling business case around your solution (i.e. the costs, benefits and risks equation).
  2. Ensuring that the purchase order gets signed by helping the buyer to navigate the steps of the buying process.
  3. Getting buy-in for your solution higher and wider in the buying organization, by covering all those involved in making and shaping the decision, from the senior executives that must sign it off to the end users that must be consulted along the way.

By focusing on buying, not selling, your salespeople will win more business.  The first step however is awareness – a new awareness of how buying decisions are made (the steps, the people involved, the information required, and so on.  Indeed, this is a particular urgency.

Most salespeople gloriously underestimate the sophistication of today’s buyers.  That makes redrawing the map of how their customers buy an essential first step.  From there sellers are in the perfect position to re-engineer how they sell.  That is to adapt how they sell – from cold calling to closing – to how their customers now buy. It is to put the business case, before the sales proposal, the sales process, before the sales process and to sell higher, wider and deeper.

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