I've always fancied myself a pretty decent salesman, after all I've been "selling" one way or another for 30+ years. It always helps to get a second opinion however, so we signed up for the Kurlan & Associates sales training course for HubSpot Partners at the end of last year. Coming up on six months later, I have to say that I learned some very important things about myself and about sales. Here are some of the highlights.
#1 - I suck at sales!
OK, maybe not quite that badly, but here's the thing. The Kurlan course had me self-analyze via a lengthy questionnaire, and the results opened my eyes. I have always been far too willing to sympathize with potential buyers, to the point of giving up when they seem to have a good argument against buying from me. I know, point gun at head, pull trigger. Even when I get "to first base", using a Kurlanism, I tend to let them slip away for a variety of reasons. So what did I learn to correct these problems?
#2 - Potential customers love to kick you in the teeth
I had no idea, even though I've been on the "buy" side many times. They want you to fail, and they want to be as sneaky as possible about it. So what do I do now? I don't let them get the upper hand. I ask lots of questions and focus on their problems and how I can solve them. No more "what can I do for you?" No more, "why don't you think about it and give me a call?" No more e-mails asking for their business.
#3 - They are ready to buy, they just don't know it yet
Once you have established their "compelling reasons to change", you are now the trusted advisor and you are the solution. Tell them what you are going to do and when, and then simply ask "will that work for you?" If they say no, keep working until they do. And no, this conversation is not happening via e-mail. Don't send them a proposal until they are ready to sign it, i.e. they have said "I am ready to sign your proposal."
#4 - Don't ASSUME, LISTEN
If they really aren't going to do business with you, you should know that during the first conversation. How? By listening. Don't assume anything. If they play it close to the vest, ask them "are we going to do business?"
#5 - Don't let them get the upper hand
If they say they are going to shop the deal around, ask them why. "What do you have to gain by comparison shopping? Will that get you any closer to the solution I have already given you?" If they say they have an evaluation process to go through, ask them why. If nothing else, make sure you know exactly what that process is and who's involved. Ask to meet with all of the decision makers, not just an interpreter.
These are just a few of the things I have put into action since taking the Kurlan course, and they're working. No, I'm not going to share my sales stats with you, you'll just have to take my word for it. I have to give a personal shout out to Rick and Frank at Kurlan and to Pete at HubSpot for nudging us into the program. If you're in sales, you probably think you know sales.
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.