Last week A Chip off the Block talked about the difference between being an Amateur vs. Professional.
Which sparked a conversation around the idea of how prospects and customers perceive salespeople. YES, that means I had to go looking for data to explain why many prospects don’t view salespeople as professional.
50% or fewer of initial prospects turn out to be a good fit.
71.4% of respondents (of nearly 400 salespeople surveyed) said that 50% or fewer of their initial prospects turn out to be a good fit. ref. Mark Wayshak
If half the people we are prospecting are a BAD fit – and we are actively calling as if they ARE a good fit – then of course we don’t seem professional.
To all of those prospects we appear to be:
- in the wrong place
- with the wrong message
- at the wrong time
So instead of being viewed as professional, we are viewed as being wrong.
How to change it:
Make sure you have a very clear understanding of your ideal customer profile. Have a handle on the demographic part (size, industry, the measurable stuff) – and remember to include the psychographics (beliefs, attitudes, and aspirations).
That ideal customer profile begins with what the prospect company would look like, while also including specific buyer personas for the people you’re calling.
I’m not saying you will NEVER call on the wrong prospect. I am staying that knowing what you’re looking for will put you in the right place more often!
Salespeople have to have conversations to truly qualify if a prospect buys what we sell and needs what we do. The key is to go into the conversation with a willingness to either qualify or disqualify.
Crazy thing is, the more quickly an account is disqualified, the more time is available to spend on prospects who are a good fit.
Salespeople don’t listen.
23% of people picked “Salespeople talk too much and listen too little” on a quick poll about perceptions and misconceptions. ref. Customer Think
I’ve been in sales for over 20 years, and this is complaint has been around since before I started.
In any new-hire training program where I’m the sales subject matter expert, the first sales class on the very first day of employment is about listening.
Since 2005 I’ve been asking “how many people have taken a class on listening before today?” I’ve been keeping track – recently the count reached 12 people, with two of them having been music majors in college… which is an entirely different kind of listening.
Twelve total salespeople in 14 years, that is it. THAT IS INSANE.
How to change it:
- Practice listening. It takes mental effort – to build up your mental listening muscles, you must use them.
- Take a class!
- Have questions prepared in advance so you can listen, instead of thinking about what you’ll say next.
- Acknowledge you have heard people.
- Ask questions about what the other person has said.
I could go on, but I’ll stop there.
Don’t trust them!
A scant 3% of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy. Gallup asked specifically about trust levels for telemarketers (9% very high/high, 32% average, 56% low/very low) and car salespeople (8% very high/high, 47% average, 44% low/very low) in 2018.
The top three reasons salespeople aren’t trusted actually stem from stereotypes, not reality. The perception is that:
- Salespeople are always looking out for themselves.
- Vague answers make it difficult to be held accountable.
- They’ll say anything to get what they want.
I don’t even think prospects/customers have to have a horrible experience to begin every relationship with a salesperson from a place of distrust. It seems ingrained into society.
That of course means in every interaction a prospect is on the look out for things that prove the stereotype right. Plus, any perceived infraction, misstep, or feelings of deception are amplified.
How to change it:
I started my trust building search with Psychology Today and Positive Psychology Program after a google search. Here are some of their top trust-building tips that seemed to resonate with sales as a profession:
- Develop self-trust.
- Make your actions match your words.
- Be open to feedback.
- Learn how to effectively communicate with others.
- Think before acting / speaking.
- Don’t always self-promote.
- Admit your mistakes.
- Show your expertise through your work.
- Practice open, timely, and efficient communication.
- Set reasonable expectations, and don’t promise unrealistic results.
How crazy is it that I can boil the whole idea of trust building down to three short sentences?
- Be honest.
- Do what you say.
- Say what you do.
This week, begin to look at your account base and immediately weed out the prospects you KNOW aren’t a good fit. Every day, exercise your mental listening muscles. Eternally make sure you’re acting in a way that would make YOU buy from yourself.
P.S. Does your team need to have a more professional perception? That doesn’t mean making them into sales robots! Give me a call to talk about creating a team of professionals with personality: