Beliefs that limit sales people – Good salespeople are good talkers

This is a Customer Management article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle
"The Talker" - colored pencil drawing

Article By Dave Kahle

“He has the gift of gab.  He’ll make a good sales person.”  It’s been a while since I last heard that expression.  The idea is, of course, that sales people are good talkers.  If you are a good talker, you are well on your way to having the necessary qualifications for a sales career.  While that figure of speech isn’t popular today, the idea behind it continues to have currency.

That idea is, like so many other pearls of conventional wisdom, completely and utterly wrong.

Good sales people are not good talkers.  Rather, they are good listeners, good thinkers, and hard workers.

Good talkers generally make mediocre sales people. They commonly delude themselves about their effectiveness, and see their sales calls and customer relationships through a distorted perspective.  Since ‘talking a lot’ is one of their core personality traits, it makes them feel good when they exercise that trait.  Since they feel good, they think the customer must feel the same way, and therefore, it was a successful sales call.

I once made a joint sales call with a sales person who spent two hours talking about a range of subjects.  When he finally left, he hadn’t gotten to the subject of the sales call.  In debriefing after the call, he actually felt good about the call, which was, by any measure, a disaster.

Good talkers often see themselves as the repository for product knowledge, and believe that their job is to disseminate as much product knowledge in the sales call as possible.

I had the ultimate example of this in one of my sales classes.  We were role playing “presenting” a product – what should have been at most a ten minute exchange.  This classic “good talker” turned it into a 35 minute monologue, which ended when I mercifully intervened and called time.  The person playing the role of the customer had actually begun to nod off.

The “sales person” saw himself as a product knowledge expert and good talker.  And so, he lived up to that vision of himself.  I, on the other hand, saw him as a disaster.  In my evaluation after the class, I asked my client to consider whether he belonged in a sales position.

Unfortunately, the large quantity of customer contact that comes with the job of the sales person is an attractive source of ears, and leads a lot of “good talkers” to a career in sales. So, they have a tendency to gravitate to sales careers, where they have lots of opportunities to exercise their personality trait and talk to a lot of people about a lot of things.

Alas, that doesn’t have a lot to do with what makes a sale happen or the processes and skills required to become good at the job.

Good sales people, on the other hand, are better listeners than talkers. They instinctively understand that the customer feels better when he/she is able to share with them what’s on his mind.  In the communication process, the customer’s conversation is far more valuable than the sales person’s, and the best sales calls are characterized by 75 percent of the conversation coming from the customer and 25 percent from the sales person.

Good sales people understand that the essence of the job is to provide the customer what the customer wants, and the necessary prerequisite is to discover what the customer wants in depth and detail.  In this process, you can never discover what the customer wants when you are talking.  That only happens when you are listening.

That’s why “good sales people are good talkers” is one of those ideas that have a debilitating effect on sales people and sales teams.

Image “The Talker” by Jennifer Mathis on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Nothing Personal but Your Sales Management Process Stinks

The Promise of CRM Online Software

“…no CRM system alone is going to fix a sales team that has no sales process, no management and no direction.”

Sales is a tough game and getting harder and harder in this troubled economy.  For sales people it seems like the competition will do almost anything to win business.  This is why it so critical to have an established set of rules in place for qualifying new leads and managing the sales cycle.  By properly vetting leads you can ensure that you are following up on the most promising new business opportunities. Having an established sales methodology or process in place will help define each stage in the selling cycle from introduction to closure.

Frustrated businesses have turned to CRM online software to address this difficult business challenge. They have heard all the promises of growing their sales by 200% within the first few months, knowing what the sales team is doing at all times and producing more accurate sales reports. Much of this is true, but it’s not the software that’s producing better results – it’s up to YOU to establish a sales process that ensures that every member of the sales team is singing out of the same hymnal.

The process for achieving this is not that difficult, but no CRM system alone is going to fix a sales team that has no sales process, no management and no direction.  In today’s competitive arena there are only two types of sales organizations; those that have an established methodology for managing the sales process and those that don’t.  Those that don’t are having a difficult time, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Having an effective sales organization begins with establishing structure.

Putting a Sales Process In Place

You must first outline the process for how you qualify leads or new business opportunities and how you plan to manage the sales cycle from introduction to closure. What CRM software can do here is provide you with a framework for establishing the structure in the following way.  CRM programs like Commence CRM for example provide customers with an automated tool for rating and scoring leads.  The tool rates the quality of the lead based on pre-defined criteria.  If the lead meets the criteria the sales team gets engaged. If it does not it’s placed in an automated following marketing program until it become qualified or drops off.

Qualified leads follow a path which consists of a series of steps or processes which drive the prospect towards closure.  The steps are identified by management and entered into the Commence CRM system. This ensures that every new business opportunity is being managed the same way regardless of which sales representative it is assigned to.  No rocket science here, just a commitment by management to change the way they have been managing leads and the sales process.  The results speak for themselves.  A 200% increase in sales in the first few months? Probably not – but there is no question that performance will improve, you will realize higher close ratios and produce more accurate forecast.

Apple Mac Users Recommend Commence Online CRM

ipad-crm-dashboard

CRM for Mac

Users of Apple Mac computers have had difficulty finding customer management software designed to operate specifically on the Mac platform.  Some vendors indicated that they could operate on the Mac, but required plug-in software or add-on components that added complexity and caused reliability concerns for Mac users. While more options have become available, internet bloggers and customer forums are recommending an online CRM software program from Commence Corporation that not only offers robust functionality, but operates natively with the platform.  Commence CRM also integrates with e-mail for the MAC allowing Mac users to continue to use the e-mail environment they are accustomed to.

Commence is a top rated CRM solution for small to mid-size businesses that operates via any internet browser and as such does not require any add on software or plug-in components. Commence also offers Mac users the freedom of choice to start small with basic account and contact management. Users can add sales, lead management, marketing or customer service applications at any time during their annual agreement.

The positive recommendations for Commence CRM are based on the company’s 24 years in business, strong customer references and flexible CRM pricing which ranges from $5 to $60 per user per month.  Customers say that in addition to comprehensive functionality, Commence CRM has an intuitive user interface which makes the product easy to use and easy to navigate.