Why Your Sales Team is Challenged



    In recent times I have been training and coaching Sales people in different organizations. One thing that seems to be a constant with most of them is: if they continue to pitch their sales in the way they started and have done for years, they will continue to meet unfriendly targets because they consistently seem to market their products and services the wrong way.

    I am sure by now, you are asking, so, what is the right way. As in every skill and profession in life there is a right way, and our sales people need to get educated on how to go about their profession correctly. One basic requirement is the need to educate themselves on the basics of sales and marketing. Many of them stumble into this profession and make no attempt to hone their skills and knowledge base.

    Just last week, I conducted interviews for a client looking for Sales Cosultants for his business. It was an uncomfortable experience. Many of them did not know the rudiments of the profession. They could not answer simple questions and even when you gave them tips on how to proceed, they could not take the points forward and build on the prompts to deliver valuable answers. Additionally, during the interviews the candidates lacked business acumen, analytical thinking and digital skills which were some of the main competencies we required.

    So, how can you improve your sales pitch and ensure that you achieve better results. Let’s consider the following:
    Understand your product and service, become an expert on what you are pitching

    Know everything you can about the product or service you are pitching especially the benefits. Understanding the benefits is key to positioning and profiling the right customer to push the product or service to. What I see many Sales people doing in Nigeria, is telling you the name of the product or service they are selling and reeling out the various names of these products, without telling why you must have these products and services, what great benefits are in them for you and why these products and services will make your existence better. The best way to hook a target is to sell the benefits, ask the right questions to refine the customer’s needs and then fit his needs with your product. Remember his needs come first not your product and service.

    Strike a chord with your customer
    Put yourself in your customer’s shoes; don’t let him think you are out for a quick buck. Research your client and educate yourself about their business and personality, this is called customer profiling. Learn about what could possibly be keeping him awake at night and be empathetic. For B2B customers, you will need to understand his industry better than he does. It is essential to offer useful information, demonstrate your unique perspectives on his business and telling your targets something they do not know about their business or their potential needs. This ability puts you head and shoulders above your competition, and increases your valuability quotient. Research, research, research is key to the success of any sales man and the only way you can achieve the above points is to spend time doing your homework, before you approach the customer.

    Nurture the relationship with your customers
    There is the saying that it is better to sell to an old customer than trying to break in a new customer.
    According to Amy Gallo, in her article in the Harvard Business Review on ‘The Value of Keeping the Right Customers’ said, “depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. It makes sense: you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client — you just have to keep the one you have happy. If you’re not convinced that retaining customers is so valuable, consider research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%”.

    Learn to cross sell and upsell to the customers you have retained. This is one area, where Sales people in Nigeria need to upgrade their skills in. Our Sales people tend to be transactional in their relationships. Once a sale has been done, they are gone forever or for a very long time. Meanwhile, the customer would have started a relationship with another Sales person, but because you went out of the radar, the target takes her custom elsewhere – revenue, sale and relationship is lost.

    In B2B sales, understand the complex buying situation
    Understand the need to engage in complex and sales buying situations and that there are many different buying influences in an organization that you need to cultivate and sell to. You will need to identify and involve a pool of external and internal resources to help you with the sale. This can be demanding but very essential given the challenges that come with coordinating cross-functional and organizational buyers to clinch the sale.

    Learn to quantify and demonstrate value using data
    Learn to measure visualize and demonstrate, in financial terms, the value of your offering. Quantifying and explaining how your products and services will improve customers’ bottom and top line is a challenge to Sales people. But note that quantifying the potential benefits and added value of intangibles, though a difficult task will exponentially improve your success rate.

    Close competence gap between current and required talent
    Most Sales leaders struggle to attract sales talent with the desired skills and competencies. The ability to follow a customer centric selling approach and to communicate value are examples of competencies where the competency gap is wider. There is a need to change the mind set and behaviours of most Sales people in Nigeria. They need to learn new selling approaches and tactics; they also need to change their mindset and habits. Though this can be a difficult objective to achieve, it is doable, with the right techniques.

    From the above, it is clear that sales is no longer an adhoc activity that you go into without knowledge, analytical and strategic thinking. A lot of research and effort goes into your sales prospecting, presentation and closing. Learn to put in the work and achieve the results.