Create Compelling Sales Urgency, NOT Sales Pressure!

TWO Sales Skills to Help Build Urgency for Change

A sales cycle that drags on without a solid buying decision greatly lowers the probability that a positive purchase will eventually occur. The long, exhausting hunt often results in returning home with just a goose egg.

How can you create compelling urgency rather than aggressive pressure to positively influence a buying decision? The TWO Sales Skills below will help you create a methodical sales process that mitigates the relentless and cruel march of sales time.

 

The Status Quo is the enemy, not your competitor’s price. It’s not news that most people have a strong aversion to change, especially if there is a perception of risk involved. The thinking goes – my current situation may be undesirable and stressful but at least it’s familiar. Your process should fixate on creating the urgent conditions necessary for buyer behavior change. Behavioral science supports this universal human condition of possessing a strong aversion to loss, as captured by this quote:

“Losses make us hurt more than gains make us feel good.” -D. Kahneman and A. Tversky

 

TWO Core Sales Skills* for Creating Compelling Sales Urgency:

*It is assumed that the rep has built a trusting, credible relationship with the prospect or buyer before attempting to dive too deep and too soon into a customer’s business. If not, your approach is guaranteed to feel pushy, disrespectful, and your sales attempts will be rejected. Your humble intention to help, not sell, must shine through.

#1 – Find painful (e.g. expensive) problems to solve. Every prospect and business owner has lots of problems, just like you and me. However, there is often a singular one that is most costly. Find it. No serious problem = no serious pain. No pain = no urgency. No urgency = no solution, and you return home with yet another goose egg.

This says easy, does hard. You must be patient, persevere and be willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable while the prospect or buyer mulls over and quietly marinates in their current dilemma. Your penetrating questions, however, foster the crucial tension, or compelling urgency, that begins creating cracks in the formidable status quo.

#2 – Help prospect or buyer convincingly answer – “Why Change?”

Your non-aggressive persistence has paid off – the buyer, with quiet introspection, admits how her actions keep leading to the same discouraging business results. You can relate to her, as every business has their share of festering problems.

 

Behavioral change is often preceded by pain; this vital knowledge directs our sales process.

 

Gently, yet assertively (never aggressively) help the customer feel the pain of their key problem. Simple, insightful questions help facilitate the buyer’s thinking about the very real costs associated with the current situation:

  • What is the business cost of your current situation?
  • What are the non-financial costs of having this problem?
  • What benefits would you achieve if this problem were solved?
  • What would happen if you simply chose not to address this problem?
  • How does this situation prevent you from reaching your goals?

Humans’ natural bias for the status quo is a formidable sales foe. The science of human influence and change strongly suggests that our sales approach creates the prime conditions for change: compelling business urgency and pain. These two core sales skills are instrumental in facilitating this change process.

 

“An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.”  -Newton’s First Law

 

You cannot control time but you can control your focus in each sales conversation! Make a mid-year resolution to invigorate your sales process with a purposeful sense of urgency and disciplined approach that steadily raises alarm bells that the status quo is unsafe and dangerous. The two skills above are fundamental for creating the conditions of buyer behavior change.

It should be noted that these skills remain relevant but are often insufficient for more complex B2B (business to business) sales where products can be expensive or have lengthy implementation steps.

Future sales topics will examine additional skills critical for keeping sales time AND momentum on your side!

As always, check out the resources page for some helpful tools and additional information to further your goals.

 

Keep it simple, keep it focused, and definitely keep it inspiring!  -Steve

5 Coaching Skills for Sales Managers

Show your sales reps what GREAT looks like!

Do your sales reps’ skills need sharpening? Begin by mastering and modeling these five coaching skills specifically for sales managers.

“If you focus on results you will never change. If you focus on change you will get results.” —Jack Dixon

The effective sales manager/coach understands great coaching and great sales involve parallel skill sets. Sales managers who model consistent and quality coaching remain the best predictors for sustained sales rep development.

Admittedly, complex sales calls often involve layers of subtle, powerful, dynamics, and often involve long cycle times. However, these five brick and mortar coaching skills are essential sales skills that your reps need to master.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispens -Dwight Eisenhower

Skill # 1 — Pros plan, rookies wing it.

Pre sales call/coaching planning is arguably a weak area for many sales managers and reps. Success has always gone to those who methodically plan. Customized planning sends powerful messages to reps and customers, such as, You are important to me, I’m committed to your development and success, and I want to understand your drivers and afflictions.

Skill # 2 — Transparency and collaboration builds trust. Clarify your agenda, goals, process, and receive agreement to proceed. Let people know what you’re up to. Customers despise being sold and your sales reps despise being told. Sales success, like coaching, is built on the foundation of collaborative, professional partnerships.

Skill # 3 — Get on the reps/customer agenda. Behavior follows belief. Great coaches, like great sales reps, deeply believe their purpose is to help others achieve success. Adults, like kids, possess highly developed authenticity/bullshit detectors. Customers viscerally feel the needy rep desperate to make quota. Equally, reps feel it in the gut when their sales manager marginalizes their ideas.

Skill #4 — Follow the 75/25 rule with discipline. Effective sales coaches and sales reps ensure that the other person does approximately 75% of the talking. Achieving this performance high bar demands that coaches and reps develop the ability to ask well constructed and customized questions.

Powerful questions create learning insights, or “A-ha moments!” Sales coaching, like a sales call, seeks to create the optimal conditions that compel one to make changes in their life. Implicit in the 75/25 is that reps and sales coaches be at ease with the power of silence. As sales guru Brian Tracy reminds us, “The selling takes place with the words, but the buying takes place in the silence.”

Skill # 5 — Don’t leave money on the table. High performing coaches and sales reps keep the action moving down the field. Asking for SMART commitments is how competent sales coaches build a culture of accountability and high performance. Effective sales reps understand that customers need a little tough love to make the difficult decisions often associated with the necessary change they’ve identified. Agreements to clear actions ensure everyone has skin in the game. Sales coaches who model this competency can help those reps who get weak-kneed around asking for more business.

Sales managers frustrated by their sales reps lackluster performance might consider adopting Level 5 Leadership – “looking in the mirror to apportion responsibility for poor results (Jim Collins, Good to Great).” Helping your sales reps regain their edge begins with their sales manager showing them what great coaching/sales looks like!

 

Keep it simple, keep it focused, and definitely keep in inspiring!

 

As always, check out the resources page for tons of great content that can help you improve your manager-coach skills today.