Many organisations looking to up-skill the selling capabilities of their sales team can be apprehensive about sales training, worrying that it will turn their sales people into the stereotypical ‘pushy sales person’. In fact, we have clients who actually choose not to label their sellers as ‘sales people’ at all because of the negative connotations the label has. This negative stereotype of a pushy sales person stems from a time when selling was less consultative in approach and sales people had just one primary objective; to win the deal, no matter what. Thankfully, approaches to selling, and opinions of sales people, have changed dramatically but organisations, keen to grow their bottom-line still, understandably have concerns. So, I’ve pulled together 10 key selling mistakes which can make sales people appear pushy. Ignore these at your peril!
- They Don’t Listen Enough
Listening to your customers is not just about observing the balance of talking versus listening, it’s about demonstrating to the customer that you’ve heard, understood and applied what they’ve said. Today’s sales people are generally well-versed on the idea that they should listen more than they talk and yet it doesn’t always translate in quite the right way, with sales people listening carefully to what their customers are telling them, even asking questions, but then failing to respond to any of the information they’ve been given. This is typically a symptom of a lack in confidence, whereby the sales person sticks to their pre-determined agenda because they lack the capability to flex their approach and adapt to topics of conversation they hadn’t anticipated.
2. They Don’t Deal Adequately with Objections
As with failing to listen, this can be linked with a lack in confidence and/or lack of preparation. Doing your prep in advance should allow you to anticipate a number of objections and, therefore, prepare your response. Never ignore an objection because it will most definitely come back to bite you and address objections as early as possible in the process (the negotiation stage is not the point at which you should be addressing concerns). When responding, avoid appearing defensive, or bad-mouthing your competitors, instead use facts to highlight how you will address the concern. If it’s an area where your product/service falls short of a competitor’s, ensure that you are able to bring additional value elsewhere.
A word of caution when it comes to addressing objections – don’t reduce the price in advance, just because you’ve anticipated price will be an objection. Customers will pay for value so if you’ve identified and clearly communicated the value your solution brings, discounting (when you’re getting nothing in return) only serves to devalue your solution.
3. They Don’t Use Questioning Techniques Effectively
Sales people have a habit of asking several questions all in one go, in a conscious effort to obtain as much information as possible. The problem with this is that the customer doesn’t know which question to respond to first and, inevitably, will probably only answer one of them.
Repeating the same question, or positioning your questions as statements, rather than actually asking, are also common habits that sales people need to overcome.
4. They Make Assumptions
We are all guilty of making assumptions, we do it every day when we meet new people. In selling, it can be one of the hardest challenges to overcome. Because they are focused on finding a solution for their customer, sales people tend to start looking for this solution straight away, rather than taking the time to get all of the facts. Even when the sales person is using questioning skills to delve further, if they’ve already formed an opinion of what they think the best solution will be. This inevitably creates an anchor effect, making it more difficult for the sales person to deviate away from this towards a more effective solution.
5. They Focus on their Product/Service, Rather than the Needs of the Customer
Whilst you might believe your product/service is amazing and the best option, your customer will need convincing. And you will never convince anybody by launching straight into a detailed description of the features and benefits before you’ve even taken the time to understand your customer’s specific needs and challenges. Only once you have that information can you begin to introduce your customer to how your solution can help meet their specific needs.
6. They Use the Wrong Language
Phrases such as ‘must’ and ‘should’ are best avoided unless you want your customer to feel like they’re being bullied into a decision. Even if, like Derren Brown, you’ve mastered the art of persuasion, the after-effect is likely to be one of resentment, as the customer feels like they were somehow tricked into a decision. Think carefully about how you position your solution, so that your customer can come to their own, informed decision. As above, focus on using facts to articulate how your solution brings real value to their business.
7. They Fail to Build Trust
A customer is far more likely to perceive you as ‘pushy’ if they don’t trust you. Taking time to build this trust and demonstrate your credibility doesn’t only reduce the chances of them perceiving you as a pushy sales person, but increases the chances of you winning this and future deals. Make sure you follow through on commitments and do what you said you will do. Sharing case study examples is a great way of building credibility, but ONLY if they’re relevant, otherwise you’re just wasting your customer’s time.
8. They Try to Up/Cross-Sell when there’s no Added Value for the Customer
Again this is about relevance. Sales people are encouraged to up and cross-sell, because it’s a quick-win route to generating more revenue. However, doing so when there’s no additional value for the customer will only serve to paint you in a bad light in their eyes.
9. They Fail to Consider the Wider DMU
We’ve all been there, you’ve built a great relationship with your customer, they’re completely on board with your solution and you feel like the deal’s moving along nicely and then you find out that your customer’s not the only one involved in making the final decision. All of a sudden you find yourself back at the start of the sales process. There are two possible implications here which can make you appear pushy, firstly, having been pushed back, you try to rush the process with the remaining members of the DMU and, secondly, your customer feels like you’ve deliberately ignored the other decision makers, in an attempt to hurry them through to a decision. When you’re building contacts within an organisation, don’t just focus on one individual, your reach needs to extend further within the organisation. Not only will this give you additional, valuable insight and strengthen your position when multiple people are involved in a buying decision, but it also ensures you have other relationships, should your key stakeholder move on from the company.
10. The Rush the Customer Through through their Buying Cycle
I’ve touched on this above, but it warrants further elaboration. Rushing your customer, at any stage of the cycle, is only likely to result in hesitancy and push-back from them. To ensure you are aligned with your customer, map your sales cycle to the elements of their buying cycle. If in doubt, use additional questioning to establish whether your customer is ready to progress.
If you’d like to find out how we could help your sales people accelerate results, without being pushy, give us a call on 01778 382733, or visit our Contact page to leave us your details.