August 25th, 2020
Selling in a Changing Environment and Challenging Economy
Selling is one of the least understood practices of communication. Many people are deluded or simply misunderstand the selling process. The modern dictionary contains over 50 definitions, some as simple as: “Exchange property, goods or service for money” or “To establish faith, confidence or belief in.” Then, within the same group of definitions are phrases such as manipulation, chicanery and worse.
In fact, it isn’t the numerous definitions that cause confusion, but rather the various ways in which companies have devised methods for sales and marketing communication in an effort to convince others, change mind-sets, or promote the sale of goods and services.
The one-call method for closing, the two-step closing, hard selling, soft selling, step selling, negotiation, incentives or “price drop” closings, high pressure, low pressure, bids, proposals, estimates—what do they all mean? They’re mostly misunderstood jargon, unwise or outdated methods, or simply mumbo-jumbo—formed by the uninformed and propagated by many who were exposed to specific practices and achieved enough positive outcomes to reinforce their beliefs. Those habits and practices remain in place until radical forces of economic and societal change create a necessity for “adapt or perish.”
Today’s customer is besieged by hundreds of exhortations each day—to buy, try, consider; to email or call for information without obligation. Yours may be one of them. Often these exhortative methods are costly to produce and in turn raise the cost of issued leads to prohibitive levels, at times now averaging over $400 a piece, which can only be balanced by higher prices and/or exceptional closing skills.
Add to this an alarming statistic that approximates sales closed versus leads issued at 40% or less, while 60% or more remain unsold. Some of the more sophisticated companies rehash these unsold leads, which emanate from the inability to make original contact, such as instances when prospects aren’t at home for the appointed time and even those who did receive a presentation, but failed to buy.
In many cases, prospects are bombarded with information—some factual, some not. So, when seller and buyer do meet face to face, it’s important that the seller understands how the buyer thinks, feels and speaks, as well as their values.
In many cases, salespeople aren’t sufficiently trained to understand what is meant by what a particular prospect says. In some cases, the lead is nebulous (less definite) and the prospect ends up speaking and acting in an adversarial manner (a natural action if their intent has been misrepresented). In those cases, they might make statements such as, “We are only looking for an estimate. We aren’t ready to buy,” or “We are only at the looking stage, so we aren’t ready to buy yet.” Or that might tell you that they’re planning to obtain three estimates. These are frequently interpreted by salespeople as confrontational, which creates an unwise attitude and, often, even less wise responses. In our next article, we will address modern methods for dealing with this state of affairs.