A number of owner managed businesses that we work with are run by people who have received little or no sales training and have very limited sales experience. They don’t like sales – they don’t trust sales – they just get on with it the best they can.
For some it doesn’t hinder them but for others it is the gag that stops their company growing and thriving. Overcoming the ‘blockage to selling’ is one of the most common start points we have in engaging with a client.
Why is there a block to selling?
It’s perhaps a cultural thing. The research below clearly highlights this.
The web site Adzuna surveyed 1,000 people and found that almost half of people in the UK do not trust politicians followed closely by journalists and sales people.
The web site Hub Spot Research ran a survey asking respondents to rank the trustworthiness of four professions –
49% would trust a doctor
12% an accountant
12% a professional musician
And only 3% would put their trust in a salesperson
Gallup Polls in the USA asked people to rank various professions. Only 9% ranked members of Congress as having high ethical standards and just 7% trust salespeople.
Finally the consultancy Development Dimensions International (DDI) surveyed 2,705 buyers in 6 countries. The survey found the common perception across all countries was that sales is a ‘necessary evil’. The stereotype of the ‘pushy’ sales person more interested in their own commission than providing service still exists. Despite sales training programs focused on consultative selling only 42% of UK buyers considered their sales contacts as business partners. Australia scored slightly lower while France scored 64% and Germany 84%.
Effective Selling is a Mindset
Selling is a mindset. In our experience, moving to a true account management approach takes a huge change in mindset.
So often the owner has the gravitas and the ability to sell, but they don’t necessarily recognise this. Working to change their mind set is often a starting point as it is not possible to replace them in their business.
Stop ‘selling’ – Start ‘helping’
For many of my clients new to sales, the stereotypes must be overcome if they are to move their businesses forward. The start point is to dispel the myths.
The role model is not a pushy salesperson, but a business partner, someone who knows their product or service and who can talk with knowledge to the customer. Because they are the owner, they can make quick decisions. If they can build a working relationship they can usually break through and learn the ‘dark art’.
Make a customer – not a sale
Sales people are trained ‘ad nauseam’ to systematically collect information and contact names and to follow up. So often ‘process’ can be used to help steer the changes. Understanding that business comes from either new clients or existing accounts and by far the most effective is account development.
Extending the contact base through asking for introductions to other people in the client is an obvious route. People buy from people and so the working relationship and trust are the reasons for doing business. Mapping out the organisation chart is essential and it must be done systematically.
It is essential to understand that the client has an annual budget cycle. The budget for the business is determined annually and the planning starts a few months before the start of the financial year. If you can get in at the planning stage you can often help the client spend their budget more effectively.
And don’t be shy, ask the client how you can help them look good in their next appraisal!
The sales pipeline is also an obvious starting point with listing:
- ‘suspects’ clients that may have work in the future
- ‘prospects’ – clients where there is a budget for work
- ‘proposals’ – a proposal for work
This tool is often a light-bulb moment for many clients quickly realising its benefits of systematically listing what they have in their heads.
At CMC, we help our clients to overcome these ‘pushy’ sales sterotypes with changing mindsets and giving confidence to move from a ‘sales’ approach to a ‘relationship/helping’ approach. With this conquered and having the right tools and processes in place to track sales, owners are then well equipped to move their business onto the next level in line with their growth plans.
If you or your management are struggling with the ‘sales blockage’, please contact us on 01491 829181 or complete the contact form below.