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Sales is suffering from 9 brutal ills:

  1. The Bro Culture
  2. Lack of Coaching
  3. Too Product-Centric and Not Problem Centric
  • Not enough salespeople understand the game/rules of sales
  • Too much reliance on selling tools.
  • Not enough training in the industry/space
  • Too much activity management
  • Little respect for prospects and buyers time
  • Not enough humility

In post three, I’m tackling how the culture of sales is broken. In many ways, I argue it’s never been “right” or fixed.

Take a look at how you sell, look at the majority of your sales training, listen to your sales conversations, and it will become somewhat visible to you by the end of this post. Selling today and for the majority of the history of sales has been product-centric. In other words, the sales process, our sales conversations, our sales engagement has been focused on the product and what the product can do. Think about it for a second, what do we say when we’re asked to do our elevator pitch? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. We spend 30 seconds talking about the product, it’s features and what it helps people do. It usually starts with; We help people . . . blah, blah, blah. We’re obsessed with our product (as we should be). And because of this, we jump on any chance we can to talk about it. You don’t believe me? Look at your cold email.  Look at your website. Look at your marketing materials. Listen to your sales calls, they are almost always focused on the product; it’s features and benefits, your company, and what some claim of your products greatness. I recently read some sales advice that suggested that because we know our product or service isn’t perfect, we should offer to share upfront where the competition is better by asking the following question:

“Would it be helpful if I started with where they are better than us?”  

This is the ideal example of product-centric selling. It forces the rep to compete on features and functions,  not on unique, customer-centric problem resolution. You can’t possibly tell a buyer where your competition is better than you if you don’t know what problems they are facing, and what outcomes they are looking to achieve. You see, your product is the solution to a problem or set of problems, and depending on what challenges your prospecting is facing, your product may be better than the competitions. In other situations or environments, your competitions maybe better. Therefore, it’s impossible in product-centric selling to claim that one product, service, or offering is better than another without understanding the problem. It’s time we problem-centric sell. Problem-centric selling is the concept where the problem drives the discussion, not the product. It’s accepting the notion that people don’t want products or services, they don’t want your widget, they want what your widget can deliver. They want the output. They want to change from a negative environment today, to a more positive one tomorrow. Problem-centric selling puts the problem at the center of the table. It shifts the conversation from the seller and their products and services to the buyer and their problems and issues. It focuses the selling effort on the buyers business, the challenges they are having, the root cause of those challenges, the impact the challenges are having on the organization, and more. Problem-centric selling recognizes that every buyer’s problems manifest themselves differently, that no two organizations can ever have the same problem and therefore doing the work to understand each of your buyer’s unique problems and the impacts they cause to the organization is the most critical element of the sale. Even more significant than whatever product or service you’re selling.

Switching from a product-centric seller to a problem-centric seller is difficult. It starts with changing how you engage with buyers and where you focus your energy, time, and thought processes. The graphic below highlights the differences between product-centric sellers and problem-centric sellers where and how they operate differently.

Product-centric selling is self-absorbed and puts you, your company, and your product at the center of the sale. Problem-centric selling puts the buyer, their challenges, their problems, and their desired outcomes at the center of the sale and isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

It’s time we change the way we sell. It’s time we stop focusing on us, and our products and our goals and start focusing on our buyers. It’s time we change the conversation to look more like problem-centric salespeople than to product-centric salespeople.

Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about them. Let’s start acting that way.

The post 9 Things Terribly Wrong With Sales Today: We’re Not Problem Centric appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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Not many salespeople enjoy sales training. The idea of taking an entire day out of the field sit and listen to some so-called expert, who hasn’t sold in years tell you how to sell isn’t what most salespeople pine for in their day-to-day.

The exception to that is Gap Selling.

And that’s why spots are going fast, for our May 16th Sales training.

Once a quarter we ofter limited seats to a Gap Selling training for the public. This is only the second time we’ve done this.

It’s an opportunity to participate in training normally exclusively provided to corporate sales teams.

If you want to elevate your game and become a Gap Seller, this is your opportunity to experience what Gap Selling is all about.

Go here to register:

Early Bird Pricing ends on Wed. https://gapsellingtraining.eventbrite.com/

The post Finally – Sales Training That Doesn’t Suck appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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Sales is suffering from 9 brutal ills:

  1. The Bro Culture
  2. Lack of Coaching

 

  • Too Product-Centric
  • Not enough salespeople understand the game/rules of sales
  • Too much reliance on selling tools.
  • Not enough training in the industry/space
  • Too much activity management
  • Little respect for prospects and buyers time
  • Not enough humility

I tackled the Bro-Culture in the first of this series because I feel culture is critical to change. But as important to eradicating the “bro culture” in sales it’s equally important that we elevate our coaching game.

I see coaching from two angles, the ability of the rep or salesperson to be coached and accept the coaching and from the ability of sales management to coach effectively.

Coaching is the biggest, non-financial way for sales organizations to improve their number and grow. Look it like maximizing your existing resources. It’s like getting the most out of what you already have. And that’s how it should be perceived.

People are the most valuable resources in an organization, and therefore the organizations should be built to maximize the output of those resources, via coaching.

Unfortunately, the lack of coaching is sales today is atrocious. According to our recent Sales Coaching and Quota attainment report, although 80% of sales managers/leaders believe they coach. less than 50% of sales people feel they are actually getting coached. This is a major disparity.

Whatever sales leaders and managers are doing, it’s not being perceived as coaching and therefore it’s not working.

This wasn’t the only powerful coaching data we uncovered.  We also found that there is a direct correlation to coaching salespeople AND quota attainment. You can download it here: 

As I said earlier, sales coaching is a two-way street and I’m not going to lay the abysmal state of sales coaching solely on sales managers and sales leaders. Salespeople are just as culpable.

For whatever particular reason, although they say they want to be coached, salespeople have a tendency to resist coaching. That is, they feel that if they are being coached it implies they are not good or are not-performing and this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Over-achievers know that they can always get better and are constantly looking for ways to improve their skills and coaching is a critical part of that.

It’s time salespeople and sales leaders come together and work to create a coaching culture within their sales organization.

It’s time leaders learn to effectively coach and recognize coaching isn’t a monthly performance review or providing overly critical feedback. But rather, a productive opportunity to develop and support their salespeople.

It’s time salespeople let go of their ego and start self-reflecting in an effort to understand where they can improve and how improvement will elevate their sales game.

Strong coaching cultures underpin strong sales organizations. They establish fantastic working relationships. They promote improved communication. They create better employees and most important to a badass sales organization, they foster a safe working environment.

Let’s elevate our coaching games and stop treating each other like cogs in a wheel, but rather like the valuable assets we are. Remember, we’re all on the same team.

Next, I tackle how product-centric we are and how it kills our deals. 

The post 9 Things Terribly Wrong With Sales Today: Lack of Coaching appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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I absolutely love this.

I talk about change in Gap Selling and how the discovery is critical to creating the gap. When you’re asking your buyers questions, your helping them look at things differently and are setting the stage for them to change. And that’s your job as a sales person.

. . . the brain finds ways to “reduce our mental workload” and one way is to accept without question (or even to just ignore) much of what is going on around us at anytime. We operate on autopilot — which can help us save mental energy, allow us to multi-task, and enable us to get through the daily grind.

But when we want to shake things up and instigate change it’s necesssary to break free of familiar thought patterns and easy assumptions. We have to veer off the nearual path. And we do this, in large part, by questioning.

The post A More Beautiful Question – Change appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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Anything that forces people to have to think is not an easy sell, which highlights the challenge of questioning in our everyday lives.

The post A More Beautiful Question appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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I just picked up a truly badass book by Warren Berger. It is absolutely straight fire. A More Beautiful Question. 

If you’ve read Gap Selling, you know the key to executing is rooted in questions. The better you are at questions, the better you can execute the Gap Selling methodology.

Since its launch and in almost all of my training sessions, I’ve been asked for more info on how to ask really good questions.

Although I address in the book, I have struggled to articulate, at the granular level, how to ask the really dope, sophisticated level questions required to be an amazing Gap Seller.  Making a list or scripting questions IS not an effective way to Gap Sell.  It’s been frustrating for me, not being able to provide the level of guidance on something that comes so natural to me, yet others are desperate for more direction. However, A More Beautiful Question gets us a heck of a lot closer.

A More Beautiful Question is a book I wish I had found while I was writing Gap Selling. It’s a literary work of art for those who want to understand the power of questions and learn how to question better.

It’s not structured for selling, but rather for innovation or learning, but it’s close enough that those who are committed will be able to translate what they learn into sick discovery questions.

Over the next week or so, I’m going to be dropping my favorite and the most impactful quotes from the book.  It’s that good.

I think you’re going to enjoy.

This first quote I’m sharing couldn’t be more accurate and one of the reasons I left corporate America.  It’s bullshit, but all too real.

“THE BUSINESS WORLD has a kind of a love/hate with questioning. The business-innovation guru Clayton Christian – himself a master questioner – observes that questioning is seen as “inefficient” by many business leaders, who are so anxious to act, to do, that they often feel they don’t have time to question just what it is they are doing.

And those not in leadership roles frequently perceive (often correctly) that questioning can be hazardous to one’s career: that to raise a hand and ask “Why?” is to risk being seen as uninformed or possible insubordinate or maybe both.”

This is gonna be fun.

The post A More Beautiful Question appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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Sales is suffering from 9 brutal ills:

  • The Bro Culture,
  • Lack of Coaching
  • Too Product-Centric
  • Not enough sales people understand the game/rules of sales
  • Too much reliance on selling tools.
  • Not enough training in the industry/space
  • Too much activity management
  • Little respect for prospects and buyers time
  • Not enough humility

Sales is the greatest profession in the world in my opinion. Sales makes the world go round. Yeah, it’s a cheezy saying but it’s accurate: Nothing happens until something gets sold. It’s this unique element that I love about selling and the sales world.

Another word for selling is influence and that’s what I find so powerful about sales. When people are selling, they are influencing, influencing outcomes. No matter what the product, situation, or environment, if you can influence an outcome, you have power, prestige and most importantly the ability to help people.

Sales is a helping profession and when done right sales people should be the most sought after, helpful, and desirable people on the planet, but unfortunately, we’re not. The stereotype of sales people being pushy, annoying, selfish, dishonest, etc. is all too often true.

The issues in sales that drive the negative stereo type are ubiquitous, and effect, in one way or another, every sales organization in the country, if not the world.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down what’s wrong with sales today, why these issues exist and how to avoid them. As stewards of the sales profession, we owe it to the industry to behave differently and to weild the great power of influence in a positive, customer-focused, way, not in a self-serving, money-grubbing way.

The Bro Culture:

The “Bro” culture has to go. Enough is enough. I’m guilty of it too. I played sports, I’m super competitive, I can be overly aggressive, so I get it, but it’s time to change. The athlete-centric, male-centric, overly aggressive, in your face, what have you done for me lately, super competitive, sales culture has got to go. It’s not the 80’s any longer. We’re not neanderthals. Brute force, rough, overtly masculine, hard driving, rigid, cutthroat, Glengarry Glen Ross selling organizations need to cease and give way to more sophisticated selling methods and organizations.

Selling is not a contact sport. It’s about helping. It’s about influencing. It’s about assisting buyers in solving business problems and needs. It’s about understanding your buyers current world and the issues and challenges they are facing. It’s not about leader boards. It’s not about exceeding quota by selling unnecessary upgrades or products. Sales isn’t about riding sales people like oxen, getting every last sale out of them or creating a dog eat dog environment. It’s about cultivating and developing sophisticated consultants, who are viewed as valuable assets by your buyers, for their expertise, knowledge, creativity, support, and commitment.

It’s time we make the transition to become more sophisticated and complete selling organizations. It’s time we put the boiler room, hyper-competitive, old school bro sales culture to bed. It’s time we focus more on the customer then on quota. It’s time we stop pushing for deals to close at the end of the month because you need to make your number. It’s time we stop patting people on the back because they upsold a useless add on. It’s time we stop propagating the stereotype that sales people are extroverts. It’s time we stop viewing athletes as the ideal sales candidate. It’s time we move into the 21st century of sales and end the bro culture. It’s just time!

The post 9 Things Terribly Wrong With Sales Today appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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For years, I mean for most of modern day sales, we have been taught how to sell and pitch our products. The product has been at the center of all that is sales, and unfortunately, it’s a problem, and we need to stop. 

It’s not that we haven’t attempted to move away from product-centric selling, leveraging terms like; Trusted Advisor, or Consultative Sales, or Solutions Selling, but the reality has been these approaches have been little more than window dressing, in spite of some of their promise.  

Unfortunately today, we’re still using terms like the elevator pitch, and features and benefits. We’re still doing demos where we spend the majority of the time showing buyers all the cool, nifty features our products have. We request time with buyers to talk about our product and what we think it can do for buyers. We fill sales decks with useless company information about our number of years on the Inc 5,000 list or the year we were founded, how many employees we have and other self-absorbed, company-centric information.  In spite of best efforts, too many sales organizations are still product-centric, turning out product-centric salespeople.  

It’s time we flip the script for real. It’s time we truly dedicate ourselves to problem-centric selling.  Problem-centric selling starts with the customers problem, not their product. Problem-centric selling understands that if there is no problem, there is no sale.  It operates from the premise that people buy things to change, and they change because they can’t currently do something they want to do and/or are unable to achieve some ideal future state or outcome.  Problem-centric selling starts with salespeople engaging with buyers to understand their buyers current business and technical environment in order to assess if there is a problem they can solve and how big the impact is on the organization if the problem isn’t solved. Problem-centric selling starts with questioning if they (the seller) can even help the buyer. It starts with truly understanding what is happening in their buyer’s world, why the current state is unacceptable, and the outcomes they want to achieve. Problem-centric selling starts with salespeople qualifying the problem, not qualifying the buyer. Problem-centric selling asks; is the problem big enough? Can I solve the problem? Can I solve the problem well and what happens when I solve it? 

Problem-centric selling isn’t about pushing products or selling stuff. It’s not about espousing “value propositions” and elevator pitches. That’s product-centric selling. Problem-centric selling is putting the buyer’s problem(s) center stage and asking a few very simple questions. Does this buyer have a real problem? Can I solve the problem and if so, what impact will it have on the organization if I do?  Once those questions are answered, then and only then do you start to discuss your product in terms of how it could deliver on the desired outcomes. 

It’s time to move the product out from the center of the selling process and replace it with the problem. Products are useless if there is no problem to solve. People don’t buy products, they buy outcomes.  

It’s time we change the way we sell.  

The post Problem-Centric Selling vs Product-Centric Selling: It’s Time We Change the Way We Sell appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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It’s time we change the way we sell.  The old, tired, product-centric, sales techniques and methods have had their time.

Ask any buyer. They are fed up with the countless, lame, intrusive, valueless emails, cold calls and LinkedIn requests for 15-minutes of their time.

They are tired of salespeople not understanding their business and pitching irrelevant solutions. They are tired of long, cookie cutter demos that don’t address their needs as a company. They are tired of the seller’s company-centric pitch that talks about how long they’ve been on the Inc. 500 list or how many locations they have and how much their existing clients love them. They are tired of salespeople coming to them at the end of the quarter, pushing them to close with last-minute, end of the quarter deals to close before they are ready because the salesperson needs the sale.  They are just plain tired of the old school sale world and it’s me, me, me, focus.

Buyers want something different.  They just don’t have time to listen to salespeople talk about them, their products, their solutions, etc. Buyers want salespeople who uncover latent needs they, the buyer, didn’t know they had. Buyers want salespeople to put them first and take the time to understand their problems, their issues and what an ideal solution would look like. Buyers want salespeople who are emotionally connected to their outcome, not focused on quota, Presidents Club and their next commission check. Buyers want real trusted advisors, not the self-proclaimed, proverbial buzzword “trusted advisor.”  Buyers want authenticity. They want someone who will tell them how it is and have the knowledge, understanding, and expertise to be right and be able to back it up.

The sales world has failed the buyer for decades now. With our focus on tools, and automation, and social, and, and, and . . . We’ve lost sight of the fact that we still have to sell.  We still need to understand the problems, issues, and challenges our buyers are struggling with. We still have to understand where buyers want to go, their objectives, and goals. We still have to understand the buyers current processes, the impact of their current processes and problems have on the organization, why they exist and what it will take to solve them.

We’ve forgotten there is so much more to selling than fancy new structures and roles like inbound, outbound, SDR, BDR, Account Executives, Account Based Management, etc. We’re forgetting the selling part. The art of selling is losing out to the science, and the human element and buyers are the victims.

It’s time we change the way we sell. It’s time we put our buyer and the buyer’s organization smack in the center of the sale. It’s time we focus on the buyer’s issues, problems, and challenges. It’s time we LISTEN more. It’s time we ask more questions. It’s time we first seek to understand, not be understood. It’s time we subjugate our selfish needs to that of the buyers. It’s time we train our sales team on more than our products, but also on the environments we sell into, who we sell to and the issues and problems they face. It’s time management stop pushing salespeople to prematurely close a deal because they need to make an internal number. It’s time we change the way we sell.

Buyers are ready. Are you?

Good!

It’s about time we change the way we sell.

The post It’s Time We Change the Way We Sell appeared first on A Sales Guy.

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