It’s the Kiss of Death in Sales

Tell me, ever hear a salesperson say something like this: “Just had a great meeting. I think there is going to be $100,000 (or $10,000 or $1MM) of business there!”

Yet somehow that great meeting never turns into any business. Well, you are not alone and as a sales leader I have some ideas to help you help your sales team.

The Cause:

Salespeople are generally optimistic in nature. Which is great, except when it clouds their ability to be objective and emotionally neutral.

Here’s what I mean. About 63% of all salespeople suffer from a lack of emotional discipline. They get excited in a sales conversation when there is some positive response from the prospect or customer. They make assumptions about what the prospect meant, what the prospect’s intentions are and what is going to happen next.

And guess what? They fail to focus on the prospect as intently as they should. They don’t ask the next logical question. They accept what the prospect said on face value and draw their own conclusions. Then they believe the sale is all but closed.

And poof. It evaporates, but it still sits in the pipeline. It still swirls around in the salesperson’s head. They believe it is going to close so it makes them less inspired to prospect because they’ve got this one in their back pocket. Their pipeline stalls. They fall behind the sales plan. The sales manager gets stressed, and unhappiness abounds.

It is a vicious cycle. You see the symptoms of this problem, but the underlying cause is sometimes not so obvious. It is their inability to maintain emotional control.

The Three-Part Fix:

  1. Implement the use of a Strategic Qualifying Scorecard. The impact this has on individual salespeople knowing what to ask next is astounding. The scorecard needs to be customized and focused on identifying items that impact sales outcomes, not just activities. It must lead the salesperson to understand what else they need to learn about the prospect by presenting a likelihood of closing. When we have created these scorecards for clients it has been a game-changer in terms of sales efficiency.
  2. Establish and coach to a Repeatable Sales Process. Provide the salesperson a roadmap to follow on how to conduct a conversation. Use the Strategic Qualifying Scorecard as a starting place to create questions. Then coach the process.
  3. For example: don’t tell salespeople what to do in an upcoming sales conversation, rather ask them what they are going to do. Coach them by asking questions such as “What did the prospect say when you asked them how a decision like this is made?” If they are suffering from a lack of Emotional Discipline, they most likely didn’t ask the question. Which then allows you to ask the next question: “Did you not ask because you forgot or because you felt uncomfortable asking?” This coaching process brings me to the third part of the fix.
  4. Require call planning and call debriefing as part of salesperson coaching. Help them spend time in advance thinking about the call and what they want to learn during the conversation. Here is where the Repeatable Sales Process and the Strategic Qualifying Scorecard come in handy as a guide. Create a form that the team can use repeatedly. Better yet, put it in the CRM as part of the documented process so that salespeople know what to do next. Also, create a Call Debriefing Form and make it a practice to have the team complete it as well. Rather than just taking random notes about the call, get them to think about what they did well and what they would improve, and make sure it follows the Repeatable Sales Process you have created.

These three items are essential to help close more business generally but are crucial to help salespeople who suffer from a lack of emotional control execute. Without these tools in place, those salespeople who might not naturally be able to stay in the moment will wander, waste time with the wrong opportunities, and miss out on closing business.

Statistics courtesy of Objective Management Group