Don’t Let History Predict the Future

While driving in a downpour recently, I decided to take the backroads home instead of the freeway. I thought to myself, “Wow. I feel really old, avoiding the freeway.”

I wondered why I felt that way. I can see pretty well. My reaction time is fine. I haven’t ever been in any serious car accident. But I just decided not to take a chance on the freeway.

Then it dawned on me. I have seen many accidents in my 42 years of driving (yes, that makes me 58). I have been scared by numerous near misses of people driving too fast, tailgating, or darting in and out of traffic. Therefore, my decision to play it safe was formed based on my personal history.

Guess what? This happens in sales too – one’s personal history affecting the decisions they make. And it happens on both sides of the table, to the seller and the purchaser.

As a Seller:

If a seller has been frequently told “no,” they tend to assume that a new prospect, one who has never told them “no” before, is somehow going to raise the same objections others have raised. Of course, they might, but no one can actually know that they will. However, many salespeople prepare their entire sales conversation based on the assumption that the prospect is going to object.

And the most egregious cause of this pattern is price objections. It seems that if a salesperson loses just one sale to a price objection, then suddenly “our price is too high.” The salesperson goes into the meeting expecting a price objection, prepared to discount to show good faith and to win the opportunity. And probably even foreshadows a willingness to cut the price. So, guess what? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a limiter to sales success.

On the Buyer’s Side:

Purchasers have been attacked, harassed, cajoled, and brow-beaten by all sorts of bad salespeople. Our microcosm of data on 670,000 indicates that 71% of them are not the best. They lack the Selling Competencies, the Sales DNA, and the Will to Sell that combine to make a strong or top-tier salesperson. Therefore, purchasers have likely been accosted by sub-par salespeople in many of their dealings.

A purchaser’s personal history affects their decisions as well, decisions that are often based on interactions with countless bad salespeople. They expect you to try and convince them to do something. They know when a sales trick is being used on them. They are prepared to ask you for a lower price, because “it can’t hurt to ask” and it seems to work with other salespeople.

Ultimately, the inferior salesperson who has difficulty discussing money to begin with (60% of salespeople in our database) will discount out of fear of losing the deal (and probably because they were expecting to have to discount). And here we go again.

This scenario becomes a commonplace occurrence and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sellers cave on price and buyers ask for it because sellers cave on price. And round and round it goes.

Make a Change

Help your salespeople by combining sales skills training with mindset modification. Here’s how:

  1. There must be a conscious call planning session. Have them prepare for possible responses, and yes, even the common objections, and have them practice what they will say and do in various scenarios.
  2. Your sales process must focus on value and what matters to the prospect. Ensure your salespeople ask emotional questions about what matters to the prospect, both about what the prospect is trying to achieve and what they are trying to avoid. Get your team comfortable quantifying the impact of your offerings based on what matters to the prospect.
  3. Help your team understand the impact of discounting and caving to price objections. See the impact by using this Simple Profitability Plan. It will change the way you view discounting.
  4. Address your team’s Sales DNA. This equates to changing the mindset around preconceived notions, self-limiting beliefs, and discomfort discussing money.

It is hard to ignore our past experiences but give your team a chance by following the steps above. And while you may not believe that a salesperson’s mindset can be changed. It can. We help reprogram seller’s beliefs every day and it is transformative.

As the leader, you must help them advance both their selling skills and their mindset skills if you want them to be able to overachieve. Remember it’s okay to avoid the freeway now and then. Just don’t let history disrupt your team’s future sales success.

Data source: Objective Management Group