Avoid Your Own ‘Death of a Salesperson’ | Mark Carter | Human Behaviour Expert on Sales & Marketing

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Avoid Your Own ‘Death of a Salesperson’ | Mark Carter | Human Behaviour Expert on Sales & Marketing - 26 August 2019

Avoid Your Own ‘Death of a Salesperson’ | Mark Carter | Human Behaviour Expert on Sales & Marketing

With over two decades as a learning and development professional, building frameworks for blue-chip billion-dollar companies and SME's, Mark Carter knows a thing or two about human behaviour. He is an authority on peak performance, productivity, leadership, talent development, sales, culture, resilience, behavioural science and business and ethics. Here Mark shares his expertise and some vital tips on selling in the digital era experience economy.

This may well have been the title of a classic play married with a sound bite from an iconic movie, yet together they form a tagline for businesses to be mindful of, in the experience economy and the digital era.

Avoid your own ‘death of a salesperson’

The classic Arthur Miller play, ‘Death of a Salesman’ focuses on the delusional Willy Loman, an ageing salesman stuck in the past, holding onto the glory of what was, rather than embracing what can be learnt by dealing with what is. 

There’s a powerful clue in this pattern of thinking relatable to the current day and to explore let’s start with a recent history of sales methodology since the Second World War…

  • Markets open and people can access products 
  • The era of the ‘door to door’ salesman accelerates with ‘feature products’ and ‘benefit selling’ becoming the point of difference
  • The power of research is recognised, driving change to what we now call ‘best practice’ sales techniques
  • Research then helps pinpoint needs, creating the SPIN selling technique (Situation - Problem - Implication - Need)
  • Through the development of these new methodologies ‘Solution and Relationship Selling’ explode.

In more recent years the concepts of ‘Insight’ and ‘Challenger’ sales methodologies have become more common to the language of sales as all buyers now have access to two essential ingredients… 

1. Information

2. Choice

Both have drastically shortened conversations in the sales cycle, leading to a shortcutting of the sales process as consumers ‘cut to the chase’, or in plainer terms, the price. This creates challenges for sales teams the world over as they work to challenge the customer's presuppositions and take a buyer through a journey of value discovery.

To be effective, our salespeople today need to be equipped with a broad range of skills, ensuring they are smart, quick on their feet and have exceptional product knowledge. A great salesperson today needs to be a true specialist in their field. Yes, the old ‘gift of the gab’ is important, but only when coupled with skills and knowledge that allow the salesperson to challenge the presupposition of consumers.

That is not to say that we should forget the pillars of sales wisdom that equally apply to selling in today’s world…

  • Connect with your customers by building rapport, interest and trust 
  • Understand customer needs, not what you think they need, remember it’s about them not you
  • The solution offers value where pains or problems are solved and aspirational visions become achievable
  • Only through listening can you navigate the concerns, obstacles, objections and negotiations required to succeed
  • Sales and ethics are not an oxymoron and you should always work ethically and with absolute integrity
  • Take ownership of what you sell, follow up as promised, resolve any conflicts swiftly and place the relationship at the centre of all you do.

If we then adapt these pillars of wisdom to modern selling techniques, you may well avoid your own ‘Death as a Salesperson’…

  • Turn the cold call smart through using digital to connect you with the right customers from the start 
  • Be accessible, easy to find and connect with and use compelling points of difference built on a base of strong and consistent values
  • It’s not about you, it is always about the customer, no matter how great your product or service
  • Be all about value, not the dollar value, but the value your customer seeks, I call this the 4 quadrants of value: Tangible, Emotional, Service, and Relationship Value
  • Be part of the experience economy by focusing on the customers overall experience, not the product in isolation.

The classic movie for any keen salesperson, 'Glengarry, Glenross' highlights brilliantly outdated sales concepts and methodologies, including some pearls of non-wisdom from Alec Baldwin's character Blake…

“We're adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know the first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Does anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired!”

Like the ‘Glengarry Glenross’ film, the lyrics to a simplistic 90's songs ‘A.B.C…’ has often been part of the sales process…

1. Always....    

2. Be....   

3. Closing!'

In today’s world, the traditional hardcore ‘push sell’ tactics are no longer the best way to succeed, with a fresh slant on the ‘ABC’ needed to find sales success in the era of the experience economy. 

A - Advise don’t Pitch - keep the advice relevant by conducting a proper needs analysis for relevance before trying to pitch or close anything

B - Believe in the Benefit - if you do not believe in what you are selling why should anyone else, remember your energy is transferable and easily exposed if inauthentic 

C - Communicate with Conviction - master your communication and presentation skills, adapting your presentations to appeal to the clients that you are servicing.

The question that remains is…

When was the last time that you updated your sales approach?

If as an individual or as a sales team it has been over 12-months, then you are already behind the sales eight-ball. Updating sales methodologies does not need to be a complex process as it can be simplified to a handful of skills, which all focus on human behaviour, so if you are not up to date on the trends of behavioural selling/buying you will soon be lagging behind your competitors.

If I was only allowed to educate and train one behaviour, one skill with client-facing salespeople, service teams, or sales leaders, in general, it would be this one…

Learn to ask better questions and then listen to the answers

Asking strategic, thoughtful questions will uncover all the jewels of value, pains and visions. Spend the time to understand before trying to position a solution or sale. By listening to the answers you will easily tailor an appropriate solution of value.

When you combine these powerful skills with strong knowledge of your product or service and the skill to differentiate it, then your solutions will make more sense, the real value will be appreciated and you will 'sell' more successfully in the age of the experience economy.

Watch Mark at TEDxCasey as he encourages you to see value beyond the obvious


Learn more about Mark Carter – Human Behavioural Expert, Author and Keynote Speaker.


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