The number one reason why most sales calls fail (and what you can do to avoid it!)

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Worried Businessman

Believe it or not, a surprising number of sales professionals still rely purely on luck and good social skills when attempting to sell at an executive level. Unfortunately, good fortune and a winning personality, while certainly helpful, are not proven strategies for delivering consistently successful results. In fact, when some 10,000 C-suite executives were asked in a recent survey to reveal their major hesitation in meeting sales people, the overwhelming response was:

“Most sales people who call on me simply don’t know enough about the issues in my industry or my pain for me to waste my time to meet with them.”

The good news, however, is that those very same executives went on to say that they almost always grant access to sales people who demonstrate an understanding of their problems and who respect their time by quickly getting to the point. Successful sales people build credibility, win executives’ trust and earn the right to consult at the C-suite level.

So, let’s get back to the number one reason why most sales calls fail is that the sales person isn’t prepared to make that sales call.  They haven’t spent enough time vetting the prospect, their company, their issues and pains to offer the prospect anything of value.  Most sales people still lead with their product rather than coming in with an understanding of the prospect’s personal business issues and leading with insights into how they can be of value to them.

I have read a lot of articles recently about the fact that “it’s a buyers’ market” and with the advent of the internet, buyers don’t need sales people like they used to. I say that is hog wash! I think that buyers need good sales people more than ever! Sales people are more effective and important when they educate their prospect about things they didn’t already know. Sure, it’s a buyers’ market if the buyer already knows what he wants, then he doesn’t need a sales person to sell it to him. All he needs to do is search the internet and purchase it.

Good sales people who really know their market and have capitalized on the tribal knowledge that has been gained about their best potential prospect will be much more effective. Additionally, those organizations that actually have invested the time and research to find out who their best potential prospect is, why they are, and what their main issues are that their company has successfully solved for other like prospects, will have a much more compelling message to deliver and stronger opportunity to engage the prospect.

Successful companies ensure that this winning formula is documented and shared among their entire sales force. They make sure that they have provided their sales people with all of the experience and knowledge they have gained, about both their successes and losses, so that their people are prepared to be more effective and provide something of value that the prospect will want from them. Successful companies guarantee that their sales people will be prepared and not just “wing it” when they have the opportunity to engage a prospect.

Successful companies also make sure that their sales people are calling on and into their “sweet spot” and target prospect. They do this by making sure that their sales people know:

  1. Who that target audience is
  2. Why they are a target audience
  3. What the issues are for the prospect’s business or industry
  4. What the personal issues are for the target prospect
  5. Who else is affected by those issues within the prospect’s organization
  6. Who are the additional stakeholders that will be called upon to influence the decision
  7. What are the unique value propositions for each of those stakeholders
  8. Who else they have already sold to in this targeted industry and how they solved their similar problems

The list could go on, but above is clearly a strategy and a formula designed for success. If your organization doesn’t have something similar to the above mapped out with all of the answers and reasons for those included, then it is clear that you are also winging it and you are contributing to the reason why your reps’ sales calls fail. At least that’s the way I see it. What say you?

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