Prospects have become wary of spending money and are intent in delaying purchases they cannot justify. Salespeople must understand that patient observation will provide the clues necessary to close the sale. In the current business environment, a salesperson must have their head on a swivel and pay attention to everything that is happening around them during the buyer-seller engagement. Sales awareness is the ability to detect the subtle nuances that influence the prospect and control the result of the sale. Most salespeople make robotic sales calls, asking the same questions and getting the same answers they have received from every other prospect, even if the questions no longer get results.
Sales awareness, on the other hand, happens when a salesperson mentally steps back and picks up the subtle nuances occurring simultaneously in the 360 degrees that envelop the call. Many miss these gradations because they are so focused on closing the sale so they cannot see the proverbial forest through the trees. True sales professionals understand that sales tactics are an offshoot of sales strategy and must be applied in the context of that strategy.
A traditional sales call has the following elements: build a relationship, develop a "want," make a presentation based on features and benefits, and pressure to close. The salesperson who is focused on closing the sale fast because they need the business, typically misjudges the strength of the relationship, and assumes it is stronger than it is in reality. This assumption initiates a waterfall of problems that usually end in a missed opportunity.
This traditional approach, in our present business climate, is usually rushed to accommodate the salesperson's need to close business faster, whereas, it frequently takes a few sales calls to establish enough trust to potentially close a sale. Sufficient trust is never built in a one-hour sales encounter and high performers understand that it takes time and effort to bond! A salesperson with high sales awareness views the sales process differently, as today's COVID focused environment has made prospects very wary and reluctant to spend on products/services that they might not deem essential. During the relationship-building stage, salespeople must observe the prospect's comfort and commit to creating a pace that allows their comfort level to grow over time. Understanding the need for multiple meetings to take place is key to building enough trust for the prospect to seriously consider allowing the salesperson to work on a solution to their problems.
In order to raise sales awareness, a salesperson has to slow down and not live in their own world of need. Here is a sample of some questions I ask myself while I'm preparing for a sales call:
1. What does this prospect know about me and my company, and what should they know in order to consider doing business with me?
2. What do I need to know about the prospect in order to determine whether or not they fit my success profile?
3. How can I create a no-pressure experience so we can have an open, honest conversation and thoroughly explore their needs?
4. What are the prospect's problems, issues, concerns, goals, etc. and how can I help them realize the impact these issues may have on them?
5. How can I ensure I attentively listen them and not focus on my need to close a sale?
6. What nonverbal messages do I need to pick up as the meeting progresses?
Before you move forward to close business, ask yourself, "Have I earned the right?"
Go conquer your worlds!
•Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. firstname.lastname@example.org.Text "salestip" to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.