In the world of B2B sales, it can be incredibly troublesome to know what your customer is thinking throughout the stages of the buying cycle. Together with other stresses in the business world, such as overtly high targets as well as added pressure from competitors, may cause the ordinary salesperson to exhibit behaviors that are much to the dislike of many customers.
Here is a list of 4 common mistakes often made by salespeople that lead to negative mindsets:
Having been ‘over-sold to and under-delivered to’ many times, customers are very wary of sales techniques. They can sense when a salesperson is listening inauthentically to their needs. Any sales qualification approach that is manipulating the answer to a given result tells a customer where the salesperson's true priorities are. Many procurement experts are themselves trained in the techniques that salespeople use, so they often spot and predict how salespeople will behave.
Most salespeople are taught the techniques of asking questions to obtain information that can enable them to qualify the opportunity, control the conversation, handle the objection and close the sale.
What many do not realise is that the nature of the questions that are asked of customers gives the customer more information about the salesperson than the salesperson gains from the customer. Here are some Behaviours that are exhibited by someone who shows Manipulation:
- Customers feel pressured to buy and considers the salesperson to be pushy.
- Does and says whatever it takes to get the sale, exaggerates the product/service to gain interest and the sale.
- The salesperson can be dishonest and/or unethical to get or improve the sale.
- They possess a ‘kitbag’ full of ‘sales techniques. These techniques cover most situations that the salesperson will encounter.
This is driven both by the self-centered nature of the salesperson and by the influence exerted on them by the organisation for which they work. The self-centred salesperson filters data that they want to hear.
Remember the bias that we referred to earlier.
The self-centred salesperson will shortcut the sales process to try to get a sale. They do not spend sufficient time finding relevant solutions for customers.
Often salespeople are not helped by the organisations for which they work - much sales training conducted by clients is better described as product sales training and put scant focus on authentically solving customer problems. Even marketing does not help - what has been called solution selling is better described as product bundling.
Here are some Behaviours that are exhibited by someone who shows Supplier-Centricity:
- The solutions presented only cover immediate or requested needs.
- The solutions and suggestions are reactive rather than proactive.
- The customer has difficulty contacting the salesperson once the sale has closed.
- The salesperson does not ‘waste’ too much time researching the customer and/or industry.
As customers judge salespeople by their actions, they will also judge salespeople by their inaction. Arguably, inaction is a stronger driver of dissatisfaction. Inaction promotes doubt and certainty, and in the extreme outrage!
Complacency is observed when there is a perceived lack of investment in a customer. For example, if it's a key account senior executive sponsors. I only get involved when a deal is due to be closed, or where the only creative solutions to problems are those promoted by the customer or when there is a dearth of new thinking and assumptions that the status quo should be maintained.
Here are some Behaviours that are exhibited by someone who shows Complacency:
- The salesperson does not really listen to the customer and the customer feels this.
- They rarely stray from their own comfort zone.
- The salesperson does not identify the real issues for the customer to match a suitable solution. Customers then feel that little or no effort has been made by the salesperson.
- The solutions presented lack originality and innovation.
The super confident, fast-talking salesperson, the one with the ‘gift of the gab’ characteristics, often considered key for a natural salesperson by all but professional buyers. Too much confidence, assumed knowledge and quick responses are a big no. There is such a fine line between being confident and being arrogant.
In some cases, suppliers see the organisations for which salespeople work as being arrogant and ‘tar’ salespeople ‘with the same brush’. It has been shown that people consistently favour the underdog to win. This puts those in a market-leading position at a disadvantage. Salespeople may assume that because they are the market leader, the customer will welcome them with open arms; however, the reality may be different.
Here are examples of behaviours that are exhibited by someone who shows Overt-Arrogance:
- Customers do not believe all that they are told or are suspicious about the accuracy of the information provided.
- The salesperson does not inform the customer of all the individuals being spoken within the customer's organisation.
- They can often be seen as taking over or controlling the customers' environment.
- The salesperson can be seen to lack respect.
So how can salespeople start showing their customers the right mindsets that they want to see when being sold to?
It starts by developing the 4 key positive mindsets that Dr Phil Squire has uncovered through his doctoral research. An example of these mindsets being displayed can be found here.
But you need to know where you are currently at.