Telling Ain’t Selling…Nor Is It Managing

Telling Ain’t Selling…Nor Is It Managing

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Telling is NOT selling goes without saying. Anyone worth the commissions they collect knows this. But telling is not sales leadership or coaching either. It simply won’t help an individual salesperson get any better. People rarely learn by being told, “do this”, or “do that.”

Telling for Failure

Too frequently it’s what I see however. Managers telling salespeople what to do and how to do it. As a matter of fact, I frequently witness this situation when I get the chance to sit in on the sales “training” sessions of prospective clients.

Typically, the manager will start off having the salespeople break up into groups of about 6 or 8 each. Each group is given a scenario and instructed to make a list of the questions they would ask – this is great. Next, each group reads off their questions. Usually there are a couple of really good nuggets, such as:

  • “Why are you even considering other options?”
  • “Under what circumstances would you change providers?”
  • “How much is that <problem> costing you?”

But by and large, most of the questions tend to be lame, and geared directly towards trying to sell the person something. These questions are generally focused on a specific functionality of the product or service being sold and frequently feel like they are designed to back the prospect into a corner. Yuck!

Unfortunately, too often the manager has difficulty helping the salespeople understand the difference between great questions and lame questions. They have a hard time helping salespeople focus on business issues as opposed to features and benefits they want to sell. Oh, sure, I frequently witness managers telling salespeople what to say, or provide feedback by saying “next time say this.” But this will not cause the salesperson to actually be able to do it next time.

Playing for Failure

Next up is usually the role play portion of the training. I love this part, if done well. Unfortunately, the sales manager or highly experienced salesperson does the role play to demonstrate how to do it. Okay, that isn’t horrible, as long as all the salespeople get to actively participate in some way.

Without active engagement by the salespeople I typically witness the following:

  • Salespeople lose interest and don’t really learn anything.
  • Whether the scenario laid out is realistic or not is in the eye of the beholder. Regardless of how realistic it is, the salespeople who are not involved in the role play will poke holes in its usefulness.

The Perfect Sales Call Not

I don’t know about you, but when I meet with a prospect, things never go perfectly. There are twists…