17. Only 13% of customers believe sales reps understand their needs
Take the time to listen. Too many buyers complain that salespeople do not fully understand their needs and problems. You cannot sell a solution for a problem you don’t know about.
It is said “Customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and listening deeply is a fundamental skill for every salesperson to take on as a process of continuous learning. Forever. Take it on as a practice, like meditation and yoga. Find different ways to learn questioning skills – as a form of communication, connection, and problem-solving – and not just as a selling skill. Practice asking “Tell me more about that…” in EVERY conversation. Practice BEING inquisitive and interested. Practice asking questions to take a conversation deeper than surface level and see what happens.
AS a Sales Manager, BE the example of listening skills and practice. Ask yourself:
• Do I ask questions to help my sales team members to discover solutions or do I tell them what to do?
• Do I consciously practice developing MY questioning skills with my salespeople, with support people, with customers?
• Do I fully appreciate the skill of asking questions and deeply listening to responses?
Is there room for me to grow in this area? Am I willing to take that on?
16. Salespeople who seek out and use referrals earn 4–5x more sales
A whopping 91 percent of customers say they would be willing to give referrals for companies and products they are happy with, but only 11 percent of salespeople ask for them!
Salespeople Yikes! These are crazy numbers! And yet, as I read them I know that AS a salesperson, this is my weakest area. Maybe it’s habit, maybe it’s discomfort asking for more than the sale that was just closed, maybe it’s a lack of skill or language to ask with confidence. In any case, it needs to be an essential element of the sales process and of sales training and coaching.
We can focus on marketing actions all day when the closer and more intimate action of asking for referrals lays dormant. Let’s give this a shot and measure the results. Make it a 90-day experiment with frequent reminders, inspection, discussion. This will change when sales managers take this on as a priority and share results with the team.
# 8 65% of sales reps can’t find content to send to prospects
Communication between sales and marketing is so important—it’s a main component of sales enablement. Marketing templates and documents need to be easily accessible and customizable.
Salespeople I listen to salespeople who regularly show their resistance to ongoing communication with prospects and clients as “What am I going to say or send them? The marketing department manages email blasts….” In a time when retail showrooms need to generate 30% of their revenue through outreach actions (versus waiting for the door to swing or the phone to ring), this IS an area that can use assistance from the marketing department about how to construct communications that align with the company message, graphics and images that need to be consistent with the aesthetic and language of the company, follow up communication templates that support showroom promotions or services. And these actions need to be taught…they fall prey to being directed without training, and then are expected to be executed but don’t happen.
Sales Managers In short, what I mentioned about salespeople needs to be managed by their sales manager. BE the assistance they need in creation and execution. They really don’t know how to do this – they aren’t just being resistant or lazy. Help them be good at an area they weren’t originally hired to do.