SPIF Tip #5: Is Closing the Salesperson’s Primary Job?

tip5Getting customers to buy can

buy can be a hard nut to crack. What else would the salesperson’s job be? Without sales revenue, we’re out of business.  Don’t we judge salespeople on the money they bring in?

This belief is a Myth because so many salespeople, and their managers, honestly believe they exist to separate customers from their money. Anything goes, so long as it is legal.

That’s why so much sales training focuses on closing. Conventional wisdom (the myth) says that the close is the moment of truth. That’s when the customer buys or not, signs or not, cuts a check or not. Closing brings in the money.

Now most salespeople do not top off their presentation to a prospect by shouting, “Show me the money!”

Instead, they convey that message.

Here’s what I mean.

The other day I got the following voice mail from a young lady who, well, wanted to sell me something.  (I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty.)

Hello Mr. Webb, this is Donna Davis, senior sales associate from Narwhale Software. I’d like to tell you about our software and its capabilities and how it integrates with CRM applications.

We’ve worked with companies like Sandler Sales and MillerHeiman. When you get a chance, please call me at . . .

So, … what’s in this for me?

As far as I can see, Ms. Davis has offered me an opportunity to listen to an extended sales pitch, and then maybe to her closing techniques.  No, thank you.  But it was nice of her to think of me.

I’m kidding, of course.  She wasn’t thinking of me.  Which brings us to the real problem with having your salespeople focused on bringing in the money:  They don’t focus on the customer.

Oh, I hear you saying, “Hold it right there!  We focus like a laser on the customer.  We’ve done market research and focus groups.  We sell solutions out the kazoo.  We partner with customers.  We sell win-win around here.”

Many companies talk that talk.  Yet their salespeople don’t walk the walk.  Why not?  Because their managers don’t walk the walk. And salespeople are better than anyone at telling talking from walking.

They know at the end of the month the sales manager will put their noses against the wall and say, “Show me the money!”  Then they remember that the customers have the money and they’re supposed to get it from them.

So, how are you supposed to stay in business if salespeople don’t do this job? What other approach is there? What should salespeople really be doing?

There is an approach that inherently made prospects more interested in listening.

It just requires a shift from focusing on what you want to focusing on what they want.

Of course, you actually need to know something about what they want … so you might have to do some research to find out.

What if Ms. Davis in the example above had called me and said:

Hello Mr. Webb, Donna Davis calling. I’ve checked out your website and I think I might be able to put you in front of some companies that would be interested in what you do.

One of my recent clients just landed a $100k project because of this. Let’s talk. Again, this is Donna Davis at …

Messages like that get people’s attention. They show the intention of actually helping you.

Your salespeople should be working tirelessly to help customers make or save money. In other words, their primary job is to create value for your customers.

If your sales process creates value for customers, your customers will follow it-and so will your salespeople.

See how different this is from the one-sided “show me the money” selling and quota-driven closing?  And, this is just a tiny example. We’re not just talking about prospecting.

The fact is, EVERYTHING you do to find, win, or keep customers must create value for them.

Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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