Lazy sales people sell more? That seems wrong. It’s not, let me explain:
Some of your most successful sales people work a lot. And those same employees also garner an over-proportional share of the business won in your company. It is not uncommon for the top 30% of your sales team to achieve 70% or more of the results. To achieve that, top performers don’t rely on working more hours. In fact, per transaction they often work less since they avoid feel-good sales activity, a common go-to strategy of the average sales person who mistakes activity for progress. Top sales performers are more deliberate, more surgical and more customer focused than their compatriots. Let’s analyze these points so you can apply the “lazy skill” to make the rest of the team better.
They're Deliberate and Work on the Right Opportunities
Know when prospects are kicking tires and when they are ready to make a decision.
Whether the sales team prospects on their own or gets qualified leads from a sales development group, it is absolutely key to know whether a prospect is in a lead stage or are in a decision making stage, i.e. qualifying the market, their intent and learning about alternatives or if they are definitely going to buy something and are in the process of making a decision. This is where a lot of sales efforts are being wasted. People trying to learn more can endlessly engage sales people and ask for ever more things.
Sales people easily get suckered into believing this is sales activity. When looking at these engagements from a distance, these are the opportunities that get stuck in the sales funnel. While Marketing can afford activity intensive engagements to slowly nurture and qualify leads, sales people with business to close can’t. The top performers smoke these tire kickers out. They ask direct questions and don’t accept desirable answers at face value. Here's how they do it:
3 Questions to ask to determine when prospects are kicking tires and when they're ready to make a decision:
- Can the prospects apparent “pain” be addressed with our solution, pending a deep dive in the sales process? When the prospect answers in the affirmative, i.e. gives a desirable answer, turn it back on them and ask for more support of the “yes”. This engenders a dialogue at eye-level and helps qualify them as a viable prospect.
- Ask if they have a definite mandate to get something done in a specific time frame (for many B2B engagements three to six months is a good start). Again, ask follow-up questions if you hear the desirable “yes”.
- Be sure the business relationship would make sense. For example, some companies have specific engagement levels or size constraints that need to be met. Eject if the prospect does not meet these vs. working on pursuits that fall outside your company’s sales targets.
If you don’t get three "Yes's"then move on. Smart sales people know it’s a time drain. The pursuit will get stuck later in the funnel, even if they could keep it alive, which is exactly what many average sales people do to keep busy. It is however potentially a lead to nurture by marketing and come back to in due time. Once you have your three yes’s, you have a “live one”, a prospect ready to make a decision. This is where effective sales people shine.
They're Driven by Genuine Client Focus
They want to be able to walk in the client’s shoes. What drives the buyer and their industry? How does your solution affect them? What can they expect? Are there issues that need to be surfaced? Some may apply the Challenger Sale method to provide uncommon insight for the client. And don’t forget that even in the Marketing and Sales 2.0 world, people are still at the core of the process. Here are a few steps the “lazy” sales person does not miss.
- They are the “Mayors of LinkedIn”. They will research the target account and work to understand the important connections. Always and with focus.
- They understand the industry and the competition. They help the client make a better decision.
- They see themselves as the ambassador for the client and care that the delivery works the way it should. In today’s connected marketplace, anything else wastes a lot of time when the sales person becomes the fire fighter on a deal gone bad and can’t focus on their pipeline. Also, the smart sales person continually qualifies the prospect. If the solution does not fit or the alignment with the prospects is poor, a “no” is a perfectly good answer to then respectfully move on.
- They have great follow up and don’t drop anything. The sales person is much more skilled in this transaction and can help lead the buying process for the client. This also engenders trust which is the currency used to ask direct questions to create the eye-level relationships effective sales people seek.
Working less on a given deal is actually working much smarter and more intentional than the average sales person. The degree of busyness is a very poor indicator of success; these guidelines are not. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series - "The Sales Process: How Lazy Sales People use a Surgical Approach to Align and Close Deals."
Become more client focused. Read our "Customer Risk Assessment Guide" to understand and address the 3 major areas of customer's concerns.