Spend a few decades training & coaching salespeople & you see patterns develop. One that rings loudly is the tendency for some to take the easy way out, to not go for it. As a mentor of mine used to say, to Wimp Out.
With that in mind let’s talk a little about guts. A fair question to ask sales pros is, “If you could be gutsier in sales what would you do?” Guts is a strong word. We’re not talking cliff-diving amounts of guts. We’re not even coming close to the amount of guts it takes to serve our country in battle. We’re talking about stepping out of your comfort zone for a few seconds & asking a question. We’re talking about doing something that helps you stay in control of the sales process because you have rights.
A favorite comparison takes me back to the 1990 Detroit Pistons. Coached by Chuck Daly, the Pistons had a great team. Who can forget one of the best defenders & rebounders in the league at the time – Dennis Rodman (say what you will about him now… he was a really good player).
Daly was one of very few people who could actually get through to Rodman – to rein him in. They had grand respect for each other & it showed. Daly would pull Rodman aside from time-to-time &, as only a great coach can do, get through to Rodman. He’d say, “I need you to play defense today, Dennis. But I don’t need you to play 48 minutes of defense (that would kill anybody). Can you give me 5 seconds of defense at a time? That’s it, Dennis. 5 seconds at a time. You do that & we will do well today.”
That’s what basketball is – 5 seconds of defense at a time. Sales is no different. Sales isn’t an hour & a half of guts. That’s hard sell. That’s obnoxious. Sales is 5 seconds of guts at a time. 5 seconds of stepping out of your comfort zone to ask a tough question or more importantly NOT ANSWER a question that could kill you. And you can do it.
Let’s identify some common occurrences where 5 seconds of guts would do your selling some good:
- Asking how decisions are made & who is involved
- Not answering the price question right away (when you do, it’s over)
- Asking if there is a budget (or target) pricing established for this project
- Not being quick to educate your prospect with feature & benefit knowledge until they are fully qualified
- Asking why you are talking (knowing they have a long relationship with their incumbent – your competitor)
- Not being quick to send a quote just because they want one
- Asking for a referral or introduction
- Not sending information, specs, documents, product samples when they say, “we’re interested…”
- Asking your prospect how much their problem is costing them (or will cost them) if not fixed
- Not keeping your head on a swivel & paying attention to your surroundings (AKA: every time we quote we miss out, but at least “We’re close…). Who cares about close?
- Asking your contact (Carl) how we can get an audience with his boss without feeling like you are going over his head
If ever you have gotten that feeling in your large intestine when any of these items pop up, you are not alone.
Question is: What are you prepared to do about it?