tomer’s likes and dislikes. I can even predict some of his answers to my presentation,” you can be certain the sales presentation is made to fit the salesperson’s assumption of the buyer and not reality. What’s worse, the salesperson’s shortcuts stimulate buyers to re- spond with shortcuts of their own: “Spare me the details. I know what you’re selling. Just tell me how much it costs and what discount I get!” Many salespeople tend to interpret this response as a buying signal and move quickly to the close.

They thus omit the most important part of the call – selling customer benefits.

These shortcuts may not always amount to losing the sale, but chances are the salesperson could have sold at a better price, could have obtained a larger order, or could have persuaded the buyer to purchase a product better suited to his needs. Assumption No. 2: “I know the

buyer’s business, so I don’t have to review the buyer’s business needs.” This assumption leads to different shortcuts. For example, the customer needs analysis may be reduced to a routine question: “What’s new in your business?” Obviously this question won’t reveal the buyer’s new business plans, budget or personnel changes, new competitors, etc. The seller’s shortcut also will induce the buyer to think: “I don’t need to tell the sales rep everything about our business. If he’s interested, he’ll ask for specifics. If he doesn’t, it’ll be his problem.”

Salespeople tend not to under- stand that questions about the buyer’s needs communicate more than a simple request for information. Ques- tions are statements in disguise. A question like, “What’s new?” can communicate boredom. However, a question like, “I’d like to know how your needs have changed since we talked last,” can communicate genu- ine interest in the customer’s business. The assumption by the salesperson that he or she knows the buyer or the

buyer’s business can lead to shortcuts in the sales presentation which, in turn, ultimately lead to lost sales and sales commissions.

What can you do to help your sales- people become more task oriented so they will use their professional selling skills on every single call? Here are four ways.

Change your own relationship with your sales reps. You are probably already aware of some of your salespeople’s selling shortcuts. Identify the complacent performers. Your mutually comfort- able relationship with them may have decreased your ability to appraise their performances objectively. Changing your habits of dealing with the complacent rep may be uncom- fortable, but it’s well worth your ef- forts to step out of the “old groove.” There’s nothing wrong with being friendly but, if your complacent rep does not do the job, neither of you will be gaining. Increase your level of expectations of the complacent sales rep. Set the example. Each time you

renew your relationship with the sales rep, make sure you review one of the rep’s accounts. For example, you may ask for a detailed report on one of your major accounts covering new suppli- ers, business volume, new projects, changes in personnel, etc. Be sure to ask detailed questions about the selling techniques employed in the last call. Let your rep know you expect professional selling skills to be ap- plied in each call. Your efforts will only bear fruit if you constantly expect your salespeople to become task oriented. Travel with your complacent rep. Remember, your sales rep respects what you inspect. Ask your rep to demonstrate professional selling skills during a few joint calls. Make sure you pick the clients to visit. Insist on review- ing the objective for each call. Before the actual call, ask the sales rep about the buyer’s purchasing habits. In your field coaching you may find some surprises: Some salespeople “protect” buyers from purchasing

your latest product. Others avoid offering a special promotion because they assume the buyer won’t be in- terested. Others don’t bargain for the best possible deal.

Review each call by asking your sales

rep to describe the best and worst moments of the call. Make the sales rep aware of the inconsistencies you’ve observed. Then share your ideas on how different selling techniques could help produce better results. Develop a “competitive sales re- port” form and ask your salespeople to use it to keep track of sales made by your competitors. This will not only tell you about individual sales perfor- mance, but also about the effective- ness of your overall marketing strategy. Train your salespeople.

Develop an ongoing sales training

program. Teach professional sell- ing skills. Put your salespeople to the test. Use role-play exercises to improve their verbal and nonverbal selling power. Teach your salespeople about the dynamics involved in their relationships with buyers. As these relationships grow, there is an initial period of learning about each other. Here salespeople are on their best behavior and use their best profes- sional skills. As buyer and seller get to know each other better, they tend to exchange experiences outside the business area – thus moving further away from their initial roles. It is at this point that many salespeople become victims of their assumptions about their customer’s business. As a sales manager, you can keep salespeople from becoming compla- cent. You can help by stepping out of your own comfortable relationship with them, by communicating higher expectations, and by reviewing their performance on the job and their lost sales. A key step is to commit yourself to an ongoing sales training program. Following these steps can mean a dramatic increase in your sales and profits. But, more important: Keeping your salespeople from getting com- placent will prevent you from going the same route. 


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37