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10 Reasons Sales People Fail that You Have Never Heard Of

We are all familiar with the traditional reasons why sales people fail; lack of defined sales process, not money driven or goal oriented, poor qualifying skills, poor follow-up, lack of consistent prospecting, poor territory management, transactional selling, talking too much, etc.

So let us look at some reasons that are not obvious to everyone:

  1. Poor money concept—Sales people who have a low money threshold believe $10,000 is a lot of money and therefore have a hard time asking for it from customers and attracting in general premium customers. Their own buying habits and convictions reflect their selling habits. Have you ever met a sales person who consistently sold on price and was a drain on their companies margins? Well that person is easily identified by their own personal frugality. Birds of a feather flock together. If you buy on price you are preconditioned to sell on price. Like attracts like. The empathy level for low price shoppers is over-evolved for these types of sellers so they tend to sell on low price.
  2. Non-supportive buy cycle—Show me a sales person who consistently has long drawn out selling cycles, and I will show you a sales person who mimics their own personal buying patterns; they do their due diligence where they take an overextended amount of time to make decisions, they frequently visit the Internet for needless information, they personally visit many stores or dealers and they waffle on pulling the trigger. This is a perfect recipe for a sales person who will be plagued with long selling cycles. The more inclined you are to take your time making decisions on buying, the more inclined and preconditioned you will be in attracting a like-minded prospect or customer. Or, you simply too much empathy for wafflers, because you are one yourself. Again, like attracts like.
  3. High need for approval—It is more important for a sales person to have the customer like them than it is for them to respect them and buy from them. These types of sales people make for great neighbors and personal friends, but too often they are not sales leaders. They tragically end up being goodwill ambassadors that customers and prospects like, but are bypassed when it comes to important business relationships. Their high need for approval gets in the way of them being trusted business advisors. They are viewed as empty suits who do not bring much value to the table. They also disproportionately attract weak customers.
  4. Lack of healthy curiosity—I have rarely met a sales person you did not have the best of intentions to really help their customers. But it is a rarity to find a sales person who can connect noble intentions of helping their customers with curiosity and inquisitiveness that results in true insight and knowledge of their customer's business and problems. Lack of curiosity leads to poor questions, which leads to poor listening, and ultimately results in poor understanding. If customers do not believe you understand them they are not going to take the time to understand your solution.
  5. Over emotional involvement in the sale—Sales people who are overly emotionally involved (enthusiastic, jumping out of their seat with excitement) lose objectivity, do not listen thoroughly and are overly invested in the outcome of the sale resulting in lost trust. To the best of my knowledge, I have never witnessed a sales person who was beaming with enthusiasm and radiating exciting energy, and still at the same time was able to conduct a thorough, in-depth analysis of the customer's problems. Sales people who are not emotionally invested in the outcome of the sale will be more consistently viewed as trusted advisors and will sell circles around plumped-up, enthusiastic, happy go lucky, go-getter sales people.
  6. Stalker like persistence—Traditional sales people too often use persistence to make up for deficient selling skills. Any skill taken to an extreme produces the exact opposite effect. If you are going to be persistent, be persistent in finding customer's problems, asking question and finding the truth. Stalker like follow up with customers who are not qualified too often is a waste of everyone's time. Hope is not a strategy that works in the information economy very well, because customers never have to respond to your emails or voicemails if they do not want to. When customers can lock you out of the communication channel so easily, over persistence often does more harm than good. Customers today now control if and when you ever get hold of them.
  7. Narcissism; Over evolved sense of self—Sales people and sales organizations are too often very product-centric, solution-centric and company-centric. This puts too much emphasis on the least important party in the selling event; you and your company. To add insult to injury, the customer is also very self-involved, so it becomes a clash of egos and we all know who wins out most in those situations.
  8. Sales people position their offering for gain and opportunity, and their customers are buying and motivated to change for avoidance of problems and failure—Decisions to change are driven by loss, fear, insecurity and anxiety, and justified for gain, opportunity and enhancement. Unfortunately, the vast majority of sales people position their offering for the exact opposite motivations. This is why there is such a disconnect in sales calls. To make matters worse, sales people position their offering corporately and logically, and their customers buy emotionally, independently and for their own individual reasons.
  9. Sales people do not acknowledge the biggest deal killer in sales...the status quo—Roughly 70% of all sales are lost to the status quo. Mainstream sales people are too busy selling their features and benefits to be bothered by the single biggest spoiler in sales. Sales people need to sell more strategically, less transactionally and they need to build a business case for change, instead of a product case. They need to perform the role of a change-agent who is seeking to understand whether it is in the customer's best interest to consider changing based on all their other options and priorities.
  10. Information mania and overload—Sales people overuse the strategy of ready, fire, aim. They use their information and expertise to sell and influence, instead of using it as a tool to gather more information. They blitzkrieg customers with information without any notion of timing, leverage and control. They do not know that the best presentation of information is the customer's own presentation and unveiling of their problems.

To sell successfully in the information economy, you need to truly differentiate yourself more by how you sell than by what you sell. Your ability to sell uniquely is your remaining and only competitive advantage that is sustainable. To be a high performer in a down market, you need to have a healthy money concept, short buy cycle, low need for approval, be emotionally detached, be very curious with your questions, be focused on qualifying your time and get to the bottom of your customer's problems and reasons for change.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com