Guest Blog | Tony Smith
I am often asked the following question by new and experienced salespeople and managers alike: Why is selling so hard?
The answer may surprise you. In reality, you’re not to blame. The decision maker isn’t to blame. Your boss isn’t to blame. You simply ran smack up against the fact that what goes on between you and the decision maker isn’t completely rational and, in some cases, isn’t rational at all. What’s more, decision makers are bored stiff from hearing the same old stuff from one salesperson after another. They’re sick and tired of it, but they don’t have the guts to tell you. Fortunately, they told The Brooks Group, and we combined that intelligence with the research we did with watching more than 12,000 sales interactions across multiple industries and decision makers.
Do you want to know why selling is so hard? Selling is like being blindfolded, everything is pitch-black, and you have a dart in your hand. Your Job – just hit the target. But you’ve been groping around in the dark because you don’t have access to vital information about your decision makers. Therefore, a lot of what you thought was true really isn’t. Organizations and sales leaders are part of the problem because they are insisting on an outdated approach to selling.
The real issue is that too many organizations play it safe. They are becoming less viable in today’s economy. The sales team is fighting an uphill battle due to mediocre marketing efforts, a lack of taking risks and products that appear to the buyer to be commoditized in the marketplace. Toss in the fact that buyers no longer want to be interrupted by a salesperson, are tired of manipulative tactics and overzealous persistence on the part of uninformed organizations and you have a recipe for disaster. So what can you do?
Create compelling stories: No one really cares about the features and benefits of your products and services. They are more concerned with what they want and if you can provide a story that helps them understand how you can bring value to their own view of the world then you will win the day. By the way, a strong brand can breed a weak sales force so take stock of your team and get better people if you need to.
Metrics are not the solution: Metrics are good for identifying gaps, sales trends, and other key information, but they are not the solution for a struggling sales team (CRMs are not the answer). You really have to dig in and figure out what is causing the team to struggle. You might find that they are being crushed by the competition that tells a better story, has a remarkable product and a better marketing plan.
Proper alignment must occur: Marketing, sales, service, operations and the entire organization must be in alignment for success in today’s marketplace. The messages everyone sends have to be believable. Buyers are not stupid and they know when conflicting messages are being delivered.
Read more about sales and marketing alignment statistics.
Identify and dominate niche markets: Stop trying to appeal to the masses. Everyone cannot be your market because the stories that your customers spin are not going to resonate with everyone. Find buyers that tend to have similar views, values and desires and focus on winning their support.
Innovation is the secret sauce: If your organization still believes that marketing is not a component to sales and you are still selling like you did in 1985 (pounding lists with cold calls, for example) then you are seriously behind the eight ball. Buying is irrational and emotional and sales must be in alignment with that dynamic. Trying to sell in any other way is like smacking into a concrete wall without a helmet. Buyers demand greatness and only real innovation can penetrate the daily clutter they are exposed to. If sales are falling, then it may be more than your team that is at fault.
Contact ZoomInfo today to learn more about helping your b2b sales team.
Tony Smith is national accounts manager for The Brooks Group, which offers services for sales and sales management assessment, training and retention. Tony’s blog can be read here. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.