Levels of Sales Competence
Many salespeople rely on their relationships to make sales. Our founder, Dale Carnegie, wrote the book How To Win Friends and Influence People so we’re not against relationships, but in today’s competitive, global marketplace relationships are not enough to hit sales targets. When commercial visitors lean on relationships here’s what they hear, “we like you, we like your company, and we think your products are good … but …”
The next level of selling competency is the salesperson that becomes alert only when the customer says “sign me up – I want it.” But in this market, sales-people are required to take business away from competitors. Prospects are not saying, “Tell me what you’ve got and if I like it, I’ll buy it.” They are comparing your offering with many others. Order takers tend to return from sales calls professing, “We’re not price competitive, we need different features, our customers are looking for . . .” (specific feature or discount).
There are salespeople genuinely excited about their products and services and enthusiastically give their pitch of generic features and benefits. These product-peddlers deal with plenty of price and specification issues. They ask, “How can I handle this objection ... the customer wants to know about this ... what do we say about that?” These salespeople regularly miss sales forecasts and work too hard for the volumes they book.
Another type of salesperson we’ve observed is the problem-solver. The closer they get to solving the customer’s problem, the desire to work with them goes down not up.
They need to engage and connect with their customers in such a way that their value expands rather than shrinks.
The highest level of relationship with clients is a sustaining resource. The end of the “locked-in contract” road is client resentment. We want our clients to choose to do business with us and inoculate them against our competitors’ steady attacks.
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