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.
You are not alone in your resistance to improvement…or rather to the actions that deliver improvement. In fact, you are human in your resistance to taking new actions that will produce new and desired outcomes. As am I.
I hired a coach in January, had an initial meeting and brainstorming session, was given homework to produce before the next meeting (which was yet unscheduled) and have only produced 25% of that work and have not yet scheduled a follow-up call. To be fair, I had hip replacement surgery 2 weeks ago and am home recuperating, so I have a valid and understandable ‘reason’ for my lack of action. And yet I find myself engaged in time-wasting distractions instead of using that time for the actions that I agreed to do.
Why am I tell you this? For a couple of reasons: 1. I want to fess up and recommit to taking action. 2. I want you to see how someone who encourages you to do the hard stuff can just as easily dissuade themselves from the actions that they gave their word to do.
Thanks for listening and for your courageous development.