Something isn’t right.
There is so much readily available, great content now about sales – maybe even too much.
Books, online courses, blogs, LinkedIn Pulse articles and channels, YouTube videos – so much, and so much that is even free or very inexpensive.
Admittedly, some of it is bad, but a lot of it isn’t.
So what isn’t right about that?
In spite of the vast amount of available information, many salespeople still seem to struggle.
And so many prospects and customers complain about being on the receiving end of very bad sales outreach efforts.
So what’s the disconnect?
- Is it sales management or leadership ignoring the messy, qualitative side of selling (it still is about people you know), or under-investing in personal development?
- Is it the laziness of the often maligned millennials – too busy looking for a hack or a trick to do the disciplined hard work it takes to succeed in sales?
- Is it the fact that the sales profession hasn’t kept up with the changing dynamics of information availability, and that the abundance of information available to prospects and buyers is making salespeople less relevant?
There might be some truth to some of these points, but not enough to fully move the needle.
So what does?
I’m not a believer in these big pseudo-scientific studies about sales – most suffer from massive methodology problems that are too boring to discuss, so let’s not have that discussion, and I’ll just give you my opinion.
Ready, here it is – the big problem as I see it:
Too many salespeople focus on the sale, and not enough on the conversation.
I have believed this to be true for a long time, and have written about it in many different ways going back to my first published book and my blogs almost a decade ago now. But it was just last week that a connection on LinkedIn replied to a post of mine with that sentence, and it really resonated.
So much wisdom, so spot on, in so few words.
(I could learn from that, maybe…)
Focus on the conversation, not the sale.
The connection went on to say that if you go into a conversation with an open mind, and a belief that your solution is a good one, then your goal should be to engage with your prospect and to see if they agree. If they do, then work towards a solution.
If they don’t then walk away – no harm done, there are other fish in the sea, no sense wasting time here.
There is no need for fancy tips and tricks or techniques. Just get into the right conversations, have them – and bring to them the expertise and solution orientation I have written about here and here, and then decide with the prospect if it makes sense to continue exploring a cooperative solution or not.
Sales really can be simple, even though it is not easy.
Maybe the way to make it simple is to not focus so much on the sale itself, but as I have said before, focus instead on the path to get there – or in the words of my LinkedIn connection, the conversation.