I keep reading these days about failures in the selling process. Bob Apollo (@BobApollo) – http://www.inflexion-point.com/Blog/ – recently blogged about the various challenges most commonly faced by salespeople:
- Apparently well-qualified sales opportunities ending in ‘no decisions’
- Salespeople unable to differentiate their offering from the competition
- Salespeople unable to effectively communicate value
- Salespeople spending too much time on admin and not enough on selling
- Salespeople without the right tools or content to support key stages in the buying decision process
We can all recognize those issues. But it’s also important to realize when to take the blame and when not to. It’s not always the salesperson’s fault. I think too much coverage is given to the salesperson’s likely weaknesses because no-one likes to criticize the prospect. Why bite the hand that feeds? But some prospects can be a nightmare and I think a more important challenge is to recognize that fact as early in the process as possible.
Sometimes it’s easy to spot the tire-kicker but often it’s not. Often they seem to give all the right responses about there being a current need, there being a budget allocated, that they understand how your product or service is differentiated .. and still they don’t buy. But they never actually tell you the opportunity has passed – they continually say they’re still working on it internally to get the required approval.
While we can always improve the quality of the salesperson there’s no such immediate pressure, or incentive, for organizations to improve the professionalism of the buyer. There. Said it.
Hi Nick. Whilst I agree that some buyers can be under-qualified (in multiple senses of the word), it’s the salesperson’s job to navigate the org chart (establishing power and preference) and manage what is typically a committee of 10 to 30 people. Often, these people won’t have bought your sort of solution before so “helping them buy” would be a better description than “selling”.