Simple Sales Tracking Blog

Does Your Sales Team have the Right Weapons to win the Sales War

Last time we looked at the average cost of making the sale and also the general lack of sales skills training within most businesses.

This time we will examine the importance of developing the sales skills within our salespeople and how that translates into profits.

During the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Czar prepared his troops for battle in the following manner.

The first wave of charging infantrymen were given rifles, the second wave were provided with clubs, but the third wave was given nothing but good wishes. They were supposed to pick up the weapons from their fallen comrades and then continue the attack.

If you were recruited into that army, which wave would you chose?

That’s exactly how new salespeople feel when they are sent into the field without adequate tools to do their jobs. This is no way to break in a new salesperson; it’s a sure way to increase staff turnover.

Sales training is the foundation upon which product training should rest. Many companies assume their salespeople and the salespeople they hire already have a solid foundation in sales skills and systems. Salespeople who don’t perform are simply written off as part of the 80% in the old 80/20 rule of selling: 80% of the sales force produces only 20% of the company’s sales. Or, put another way, 80% of the company’s sales are produced by only 20% of the sales force.

Denying the training and support systems, which every jittery newcomer needs to get started in selling, is a short-sighted and counterproductive view of the sales team-building process. New sales reps are entitled to all of the help and tangible support that a business can provide.

Success in selling is inversely related to a salesperson’s FUD factor – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – which they experience every day in the firing line. Because selling will always be a problem if it is not learned as a procedure, it is mandatory that selling skills – as well as product knowledge – be emphasized in your training programmes. Without adequate preparation, new salespeople will surely fail in the field – just as the ill-equipped and poorly trained Russian soldiers did.

Many salespeople I’ve trained over the years have been very successful in selling before they undertook the training however what I often hear from these people is the comment
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know” as we introduce them to a structured sales process.

Without a structured selling process many sales are lost that could have been converted with the right preparation, asking the right questions and then following up.

They say more sales are lost through poor questioning than are ever lost on price.

What this all means to businesses is that the cost of making sales goes up as these opportunities are missed.

A national client I was working with achieved over 40% improvement in sales through following a structured sales process.

For every business I have worked with over the years there is a recipe of the right questions to ask a prospect to uncover firstly if they have a need – No Need = No Sale, and secondly how urgent that need is. Yet most salespeople have a few standard questions they ask and then launch into their sales pitch – generally before the prospect has fully understood their own needs – this then leads to “leave it with me I need to think this over”.

With the right questions and processes the prospect should be able to make a decision based on the information presented.

We will look at team development and the correlation to sales staff retention next time.

Quote of the Week:

Every sale has five basic obstacles
No Need, No Money, No Hurry, No Desire, No Trust

Zig Ziglar


Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

Are There Natural Born Salespeople?

A question I am often asked is “Are there natural born salespeople that we should be looking for?”

My answer to this is there is no such thing as a natural born salesperson. There are salespeople with the “gift of the gab” who make good sales but they tend to lack consistency in their results.

Contrary to popular belief, the best salespeople aren’t the best talkers, they are the best listeners.

The best salespeople, the consistent high performers, are those who have been trained in the best sales practices and then supported through management.

A vast amount of “sales training” is focused on product or technical training rather than specific sales skills development.

This tends to produce product focused salespeople who use the classic show and tell sales presentation. Typically the presentation goes something like this –

The salesperson looks around the prospects office and finds some item of interest and begins a discussion on this, much to the annoyance of the prospect who has had the same discussion with a hundred other salespeople and hasn’t got time to waste with the usual so called rapport building techniques. They then ask a few self serving questions to uncover a potential need, then launch into a product/technical solution based presentation.

A study of over 500 buyers from the fortune 1000 companies showed that salespeople jump in with a

solution before the real problem has been uncovered. This happens in 63% of sales interviews.

Sales like any other business activity is a process and needs to be systemized to ensure consistency in the results.

Exceptional salespeople have a planned approach to selling not canned and follow a process.

McDonalds doesn’t hire staff and then challenge them to figure out how best to do the job. Instead they work on the basis there is a best way to take an order, greet a customer and put a burger together.

In sales there is a best practice too.

Like assembling a cheeseburger, sales has a process. Firstly to identify your prospects, next to get a referral to them, then establish trust, uncover their need, if they have one, present a solution, and ask for the business.

Selling is very simple but not easy!

Imagine sitting on a plane at HB Airport waiting to take off and the captain comes on and says – “this is my first flight in one of these really big planes – I’m going to try and figure out the best way to fly this thing”.

Many companies send their salespeople out into the field with great product training and very little if any sales training to “fly by the seat of their pants”.

It is a fact the greatest asset in our businesses is our staff.

It costs businesses just as much money in salary, travel and costs for a poor sales performer as it does for a great sales performer. Therefore we need to lift the performance of all our salespeople to ensure consistency in sales results. The way to achieve this is through using best sales practices and measurement for accountability.

A question I sometimes hear is “What happens if we train them and they leave?” I ask “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?”

Coming back to what makes great salespeople, Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his famous book “Outliers” – “success in any field comes from opportunity and practice”.

Many companies give their salespeople the opportunity to undertake sales training – what makes the difference between good salespeople and the great is the great salespeople continue to learn and practice the skills they have learnt. They say “practice makes perfect” – this is only partly true – perfect practice makes perfect. Therefore sales come down to using best practices.

The first of these is developing a goals programme around what your sales targets are, the obstacles of achieving these, the solutions to overcome these obstacles, a detailed plan of sales activities mapped out over the next 12 months.

We can’t control sales – we can control sales activities.

We will look at this in my next article.

Action Steps –

1. Review your sales targets

2. Break down into monthly and weekly targets

3. Review your Prospecting Plan

4. List 3 actions you could implement this week to move forward e.g. Ask your key clients for specific referrals

Quote –
“Until we learn the formula (process) for success we can’t repeat it”
Brian Tracey

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , , , ,

Scared to Close the Sale?

In my last ramblings we looked at overcoming the “no hurry/no desire to change from the current supplier or serviced provider” obstacle.

Today we will look at the key reasons salespeople don’t ask for the business.

In fact surveys conducted with the fortune 500 in the States showed that 62% of presentations finish without the salesperson actually asking for the business!

The number one reason people I train state for this is fear of rejection and embarrassment.  This fear comes as a result of lack of sales processes which would naturally lead to asking for the business.

The first part of the sales process then is getting a referral to the prospect by a trusted advisor and just as important is the way the advisor positions you with their client.
One of the tools we develop for our clients is a positioning statement.  This is a tool you give to your referrer so that they position you in the best possible way.

Having been positioned well the next step towards closing is doing your homework on the prospect.  Your referrer will often help here as they are working in the best interests of their clients in helping you.

We have been positioned well with the prospect, we are well prepared with background information including possible issues we may have solutions for, we have our appointment, –  the next step is to establish trust.

We hardly ever buy from people we don’t trust and of course if our prospect doesn’t trust us then they may not give us all the information we need to taylor the very best solution for their need or may in fact deny they have a need.

Some key ways to build trust are –
• Being early or on time
• Coming prepared
• Dressing appropriately
• Having the very best sales aids – pens, folders, business cards (not a good look when salespeople hand you their “dog-eared” business card!)
• Asking good questions  (nothing upsets buyers more than poorly prepared salespeople with self-serving questions)

Now we have established trust with our prospect the next step is to uncover the need and help the buyer to recognize whether the need justifies our solution.

It has been found that 64.3% of salespeople start presenting their solution before the buyer recognizes the desire for a solution.  This results in buyer objections which opens
a whole new minefield to manoeuvre through.

We will look into this further in my next article.

This Weeks Action Step –
Make a list of all the closing phrases you currently use in asking for the business.

Quote of the Week –
If you don’t close the sale you are working for the opposition
Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

Overcoming the key obstacles to make the sale

We have been looking at the key obstacles in the buyer’s mind which we need to answer before we can progress the sale.

The first of these was the different needs of buyers depending on their roles within the business.

We identified 3 potential buyer levels –

  1. Middle Management level
  2. Senior Management
  3. Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors

Then we looked at lack of funding where we discovered we need to clearly identify all the associated costs related to their current need.  Business owners make buying decisions based primarily on the expected return on investment.  If you can’t show a clear cost saving then there is no reason to change.

It is a fact that 99% of new prospects you visit already have a provider providing the same services/products you do.  Therefore they are only focused on two things in talking to you – the cheapest price or at least a price check on the current provider or improved value over what they are already receiving.

Our sole goal is focused on adding value. This can only be achieved if we can uncover their needs through good questions.

The opportunity for us to add value with these prospects lies in the following areas –

  1. Helping them to uncover an unrecognized need
  2. Helping them to uncover new opportunities
  3. Finding new solutions for old problems

To achieve this requires good preparation which unfortunately most salespeople tend to skip as they argue they are far too busy.  These types of salespeople are generally referred to as “professional conversationalists” i.e. they get paid to go around and talk to people but not actually to make sales.

Back to the subject of today  – No Hurry/No Desire to change from the status quo.

If we can uncover a big enough need through this process and combine the return on investment calculation that we looked at last time then this should create the desire and more importantly help the buyer to come to the buying decision.

We will look at the last of the obstacles in my next article.

Quote of the Week:

Opportunity dances with those who are ready on the dance floor

                                                                                H. Jackson Brown Jr

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,


Simple Sales Tracking is web-based sales CRM software for the tracking, analysis and forecasting of individual and team sales pipeline and contacts.

Built with simplicity at its core, focus is kept on key sales tasks, while eliminating unnecessary ones, helping to ensure buy-in of the entire sales team.
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