For the past decade, I’ve been observing a disturbing trend that has crept its way into the heads and hearts of salespeople across a wide range of industries.
If you’re a leader of a sales team or have a sales or service role, this is an opportunity for you to check if you’ve bought into this trend … because if you have, you are at risk of losing potential and existing business.
The trend has risen from the necessary movement away from more traditional pushy, foot-in-the-door, and aggressive stereotypical sales approaches.
Selling is Not Being Pushy
This movement is rightly based on the fact that when most people are in a buying situation, whether business to business or business to consumer, they don’t want to feel like they are being sold.
Few if any of us ever want to feel, pushed, coerced, or manipulated into some kind of buying decision that we are not comfortable or confident to make.
The problem with ‘soft sell’.
In the pursuit of moving away from the more traditional and negative stereotypical sales approach, there is a trend toward sales and service people adopting a ‘soft sell’ approach.
The problem arises when their soft sell approach or process lacks the required value-discovery and value-alignment components that fast-tracks trust, and help customers and clients be more comfortable and confident to make wise buying decisions.
The result – no sale!
Passive Reactive v Confidently Proactive
This ‘passive reactive’ approach can leave prospects and clients just as hesitant and cautious as they were if ever confronted by a ‘pushy-aggressive’ sales or service person.
It’s time for a much needed refocus on selling and for salespeople to become more ‘confidently proactive’ in their approach to selling.
Too many choices lose the sale.
There has also been a major shift in the decision making of buyers that many salespeople have missed.
The change has occurred because of the ‘sameness syndrome’.
Increasing competition and globalization has provided an amazing range of choices for potential buyers in most situations.
They can pretty much get the product or service with the features and benefits they’re after, from a range of suppliers, and all for about the same price.
When a potential buyer is confronted by choice, unfortunately, if they are also being ‘served’ by a ‘passive-reactive’ salesperson, usually, the only point of difference the buyer will turn to is the price.
When people want or need to buy something that is important to them, what is required is a salesperson who will confidently advise and recommend the most appropriate product, service, or solution, rather than provide options and leave it to the client to decide.
Change Your Philosophy Not The Process
It’s not the principles of selling that need to change, it’s the underlying philosophy.
The principles of successful selling arguably haven’t changed.
Selling is still a process of building trust relationships, with the aim to create reciprocal value on a continual basis.
Salespeople are still required to build rapport, ask questions, show value, identify obstacles, confirm next steps, and stay in touch to create advocacy, repeat and referral business.
What needs to change is the underlying philosophy that each salesperson has about the value of their expert advice in helping potential and existing clients make comfortable and confident buying decisions.
Soft-sell approaches are currently the cause of under performing salespeople across a range of industries, and in the current economic climate, and even when boom times return, salespeople need to re-frame their thinking about what it is they’re really selling and what it is that people are really buying.
When buyers have choice they require an expert advice-based sales and service provider, not a passive reactive conversation!