Sales people will claim they lost a deal for one of three reasons:
- Price: “The other guys were cheaper. We need to lower our prices.”
- Features: “The other guys can do _____. We need to catch up.”
- Reputation: “The other guys are the [largest, oldest, whatever] in our industry. We can’t compete.”
Price, features and reputation are excuses. They may come up as valid reasons from time-to-time, but they’re not the primary reason sales are lost.
Stop selling. Facilitate
The real reason sales are lost is customer don’t choose you. The most important lesson for sales people is to learn to stop selling and start facilitating. You can’t lose a deal when you are helping your customers make the right decisions.
Customers don’t buy for three reasons:
- Timing. They’re not ready.
- Trust. They don’t believe or trust you can do what they need.
- Capabilities. You don’t have the solution they need.
A good facilitator understands all three dimensions. And from the very first interaction, he begins to qualify the opportunity. He tries to understand who the client is, their needs, what they already have and use, their culture, their decision making process, their budget and their timeframe. As the sales person gathers information, he is able to uncover needs and help his clients solve issues.
It’s not about winning and losing
The culture of sales conflicts with facilitating. Sales people are trained to prospect, qualify, overcome objections, negotiate and close. This process is sometimes referred to as the “great game of selling.” It’s a numbers game driven by commission plans.
I have grown up in this culture, and I have a natural affinity for it. I love the competition, the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of winning a signed contract. But at the same time I have to work to overcome these urges.
When I focus on selling, I get caught up in winning and losing. When I focus on facilitating, I become so much more effective.
Objections are natural
Managing objections is a sales myth. Objections are a natural part of the customer’s evaluation process. They throw up obstacles to learn, gather information and ensure they’re making the right choices.
How you approach objections is a choice. Are you going to sell or facilitate?