Published by : Louis G. Larochelle
To generate as many sales as possible, reps must be rigorous: they must follow a clear list of steps in a formal and precise sales process.
When they lose too many sales, salespeople tend to justify their poor performance with excuses such as:
- The competition is too strong;
- I don't have time to sell;
- The economic context is unfavourable;
- Our prices are too high;
- We have delivery problems so I can't sell the products;
These are what I call " fake reasons ".
Here is a list of " real reasons " why representatives are unable to close their sales.
The real reasons: the lack of skills
In reality, the real reasons for the loss of opportunities are often linked to the lack of skills of the salespeople. Their weaknesses appear very early in the sales process.
#1. They do not understand the customer’s compelling reason to buy
The reps must first identify the problem that the customer needs to solve in order to find their compelling reason to buy.
If the seller fails to identify the consequences of his customer's problem, the customer will not be compelled to buy what is offered to him. Worse still, some representatives themselves feel that the problem is unimportant and fail to propose a solution.
It is often the ability to ask many questions that is lacking, a skill that is at the heart of consultative selling. To properly quantify the value of the problem, the representative must ask questions that will lead the prospect to a reflection focused on the gains that will result from solving the problem. What amount of money, time or energy will he save?
#2. They do not consider the customer's urgency to buy
Representatives fail to assess the urgency of the situation. If the prospect is not ready to take the necessary steps to solve the problem, he may slow down the process at the closing stage. Without urgency, he will object and ask for a few months to think about it. If he waits too long, all the work to prepare the offer will have been done in vain as both prices and services may have changed by the time he’s ready to commit.
Once again, the representative's weakness lies in his inability to ask many questions and to use consultative selling. Indeed, it’s only after he has identified the customer’s compelling reason to buy that the rep can demonstrate the value of his solution and thus evaluate the customer's urgency to buy.
#3. They fail to qualify the prospect
Poor customer qualification is a frequent reason why salespeople are unable to close enough sales. Located between the second and third goal according to the Baseline Selling Methodology, a good qualification should answer the 6 following questions:
- Is the prospect ready to solve the problem?
- Is he willing to pay more?
- Is the rep talking to the decision-maker or should there be other people?
- What is the decision-making process?
- Who are the competitors?
- What are the purchasing criteria other than price?
For example, if the salesperson does not know with which competitors his prospect is talking, he will not be able to differentiate himself from them in the eyes of his potential customer.
Besides, if the purchase criteria are limited to price, the salesperson will not be able to sell the value of his solution. However, this is essential for a company that wants to generate profits by selling products and services with a profit margin that is worthwhile.
An effective sales process to support the skills
The sales process is used, among other things, to clearly define each sales step. This ensures that the rep completes each step in the correct order.
The sales skills listed above are essential. On the other hand, without a defined sales process to structure their actions, the result is somewhat left to chance and the closing rate is certainly lower.
Unfortunately, companies with a closing rate of 10% to 20% are very common. These organizations inevitably lose time, money and customers to competitors.
Selling is not a matter of luck! Nothing should be left to chance: sales leaders must ensure that they develop the skills of their representatives and establish an effective sales process.