Many new founders and entrepreneurs think sales departments are brought to life by some sort of magical skill only known to a few gifted individuals. They believe sales is mostly just a roll of the dice, as opposed to seeing it for what it really is: a systematic procedure that is implemented and repeated to generate targeted leads and close deals.
If every other part of your business has systems in place to function well, why would sales be any different?
Time and time again I see business owners who are reluctant to learn sales. They have a great product or service, they’re forced to take it on, but don’t see much success. The issue here lies within a few common misconceptions about sales.
Once you learn that sales is a process and make sense of how a sales system works, it becomes possible to implement repetitive procedures that generate success.
Let’s take a look at the common misconceptions leading entrepreneurs astray. By avoiding these downfalls, you can take the right steps towards implementing an effective sales process.
More Leads = More Sales
The volume of leads you acquire is much less important than how you approach those leads. Sometimes a huge influx in leads can be more of a distraction than a catalyst for growth.
All too often, I see people complaining that they need more leads when they can barely hit a 5%-10% success rate in closing deals. The problem seems obvious - to get five new clients, you just need 50-100 more qualified leads.
But those leads cost money you probably don’t have. It’s much harder to generate qualified prospects than a large number of them, and frankly, who has the time?
The problem isn’t the leads, the problem is the sales process.
Is your sales outreach designed to bring in as many leads as possible? Or is it designed to bring in leads that will actually benefit from your offerings and efficiently turn them into customers?
It’s not about how many calls you book. It’s about putting in the hard work to see if you are a good fit to solve your client’s problems.
As sales expert Bryan Tracy says “No matter what you are selling, the most important part of salesmanship is understanding the needs of your customer and figuring out how to meet them.”
When a proper process is in place, you will attract leads worthy of investigation and have tools at your disposal to close in on the right deals.
Automate All the Things!
Automation’s all the rage right now, and there’s no denying that it can add a lot of leverage to your business. But it won’t drive more sales if you’re not willing to understand and empathize with your prospect.
A lot of people turn to automation because they simply don’t want to talk with people.
This mentality will get you nowhere, and it needs to change. If you have put in countless hours building a business, why wouldn’t you want to interact with the people interested in your service or product?
One of the reasons behind this mentality is fear.
We fear what we are not prepared for or lack experience in. With the right training and practice, sales can become a positive part of your workflow instead of something you dread.
You need to build up your “sales-muscle” through consistently interacting with your prospects. Doing so will help to build up your confidence so you can approach calls with the attention they deserve.
The only thing holding you back is yourself. Get some damn courage and quit making excuses for not talking with your clients.
David Sandler said it best, “Courage is all about taking action. Courage requires discipline, vitality, and guts to face those tasks in your profession that make you feel uncomfortable.”
Another reason why people avoid speaking with their prospects is because they don’t like the feeling of putting pressure on others.
Keep in mind though, pressure only becomes negative when you are trying to sell something that the prospect doesn’t truly need.
Putting a little pressure on your prospects to make a positive change is actually a form of support. It’s not pressure to buy your service or product, but a push to take the necessary steps towards making a positive decision.
Sales Advice is “One-Size-Fits-All”
Many entrepreneurs have been through some sort of sales training, but to be honest, a lot of sales training programs are bogus and won’t apply to your business.
The more prominent programs or popular sales training guides on the market are geared toward corporations or companies with large teams. These models will not serve a smaller B2B businesses.
Some advice is also dated and well over 50 years old. That doesn’t mean this advice doesn’t have any worth. But the B2B landscape is evolving in such a way that you need a specific process aligned with your unique business to truly drive sales.
There are also group coaching models of training. These are good systems if you fit into those specific boxes. It becomes an issue though when you try to use concepts that don’t apply to your business. This will just lead you deeper into a process that will not serve you.
Additionally, a lot of the advice out there assumes you already have a big email list or existing channels to connect with a massive amount of prospects.
It’s great if you do, but that’s not normally the case for most founders. And as a small to medium-sized B2B company, you probably don’t have the capacity to handle the volume of unqualified leads those campaigns rake in anyways.
Sales is a Game
Sales isn’t something you play. It’s a co-creative process in which you and the prospect can discover what their needs are and determine whether your expertise can help them.
It’s a matter of life and death for your business.
A game automatically implies some sort of competition, or a winner and loser. It’s not good for you - or your clients - to look at a prospect thinking, “I win by closing this deal.”
Many think there are sales “rules” that you have to play by and if you don’t follow these rules, your prospects won’t engage in the sales game.
You’re not trying to get your prospects to play a game. You’re using strategies and techniques to challenge them to make decisions that will benefit their business.
It’s much more about understanding the psychology of decision making than it is about getting good at a “game” you play when you jump on a call.
More Credentials = More Sales
A common tactic used in sales is talking up a businesses’ credentials to persuade the prospect… in some way. You let me know if you figure it out.
Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Do you care more about what the company has achieved, or do you care if they can help your unique business meet the specific needs you hope to accomplish?
Flaunting awards and fancy titles is a cop-out of a sales experience, and it doesn’t help anyone.
Time is a resource. Don’t waste your or your prospect’s time by filling a call with irrelevant information. Furthermore, if you’re adding fluff on a call as a last-ditch effort to close a deal, prospects will smell your “commission breath” from miles away.
It’s fine to have case studies or testimonials for your prospects to reference. That will help them to verify that you’ve brought value to past clients. But your calls need to be focused on the client at hand and how you can best serve them.
Establishing an Effective Sales Process for your Business
Now that we’ve explored these misconceptions, hopefully it’s become clear that sales should be taken seriously - it can’t be avoided and it’s not just a game. Sales is about doing the hard work upfront so you can win deals that are a good fit for you - and your clients.
I can’t emphasize enough how badly your business needs a solid, well-defined sales system in place. An improvised combination of random sales advice and automated funnels won’t produce the results you’re looking for.
First and foremost, you’re in the people business, not the product business. It’s your job to help your clients understand the deeper issues they need you to solve for them.
You also need to help them realize the consequences they’ll be faced with if they choose not to take action towards resolving these issues.
At the end of the day, an effective sales process involves being able to understand your prospect’s intent and reason for seeking out your services.
The good news is you can learn how to connect your various offerings to resolving your prospect’s problems. If you handle this process well, you can scale your business to a level where you can afford to hire someone else to take over the sales role. This opens up more time for you to get back to engaging with the parts of your business you love.
If you are interested in taking your sales skills to the next level while implementing a process suited for your business, the team at Salesability is here to help.