The definition of SALES INSANITY! A few SANE thoughts for 2014.

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You know the definition of insanity, right?  

Doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  So let’s self-reflect for a minute and consider our own insanity when it comes to the way we engage with our clients.

But first, a reality check – we’ve been in the midst of an economic climate that has forever changed how clients think about their business and how they buy.  Decision makers, especially those at high levels, not only expect but demand that salespeople come to the table with a thorough understanding of their business needs and to bring new ideas and insights about their industry and the competitive landscape.

This is the ticket to the dance in order to earn (and keep) their business.

Talk about significant pressure on sales organizations to think, act, and sell differently!  The days of walking into a client or prospect’s office blind about their business, using 20 page decks to push product, or thinking that a buddy-buddy relationship is enough to win them over or keep them are long over.

If you’re doing this, please realize that the first step is to admit that there is a problem!

Making a change requires a mindset shift, effort and preparation – it requires getting ready to ask versus tell and listen versus sell. If you’re looking for meaningful changes that can help how you engage with prospects and clients, you might want to consider these:

3 keys to ending the selling insanity in 2014

1. Embrace the heck out of Discovery…

Discovery is asking the right questions and having the right dialog to create or uncover client needs.    It’s an important part of any sales process because if there aren’t any needs, there’s no need for a solution.  And without a solution, there is no sale.   Most people in sales understand how important Discovery is but how many of us do it well?   How many of us spend more time preparing a deck versus determining the kinds of questions we plan to ask and why these are the right questions? How many of us conjure up a list of questions on the way to the client meeting?   How many of us wonder why the client didn’t buy?

Decision makers today have very low tolerance for educating you on their business – so you have got to do your homework. That means knowing the fundamentals of their business and the industry they are in – what strategies and major initiatives are a focus and why, how they make money, who their competition is and why they are a threat, who their most important customers are, what’s going on within their industry that could be impacting their business etc.   Having this insight will help you decide where you might be able to help and which questions are most critical to ask to begin the discussion of creating or uncovering their needs.

2. Be provocative and challenge the client to think differently…

I once heard a sales leader say “If we both think about things the same way, one of us is un-necessary.”  I love that quote and it reminds me that we do have to shake things up and give our prospects and clients a reason to think differently and be challenged.  Provocative questions are intended to get the decision maker to visualize and articulate what future success looks like and how it will be measured (for their business and for them personally).  It also means having an honest discussion on current state and what’s working best and least.   All of this will help set the platform to uncover or create needs that you can help with.

3. Think “80/20”…

At the end of a meeting, who has done the majority of the talking – them or you?  Here is a big danger – when the prospect or client asks you a question.  It is so easy to do what we call “show up and throw up.”  You get so fired up and passionate about your product or you want to show the client you know your stuff, you go on and on (and on).  Resist that urge and you will be amazed by what you learn when you really listen and then dig deep.

It’s a new year and a great time to reflect and re-set.  Perhaps these principles can help you take your success to the next level in 2014.  Good luck and have a happy, healthy and successful new year!

Written by Sue Anderson, Managing Partner at vie™. Visit vietocompete.com or email susan@vietocompete.com to start a discussion about how vie can make a remarkable difference for your sales organization.

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