sales

Are your salespeople stumbling at hello?

Sue Barrett /

We all want better sales performance and, as I mentioned last week, there are different ways to get there. A good starting point to understanding what your team needs to sell better and improve their performance, is assessing where they need help.

For example, through an attitude and activity-based questionnaire you can measure if people avoid making phone calls to prospect, if they hesitate to prospect, and self-promote for new business. You can also identify how much initiative, energy and drive an individual devotes to proactive sales prospecting and the amount of energy spent on coping with inhibitors such as fear.

Nothing gets sold until salespeople get in front of or talk to potential buyers. Prospecting requires salespeople to actively establish contact with people who might buy their products or services.

Barrett has assessed over 50,000 people on this kind of questionnaire and we can attest to the fact that most salespeople have some form of prospecting hesitation or avoidance to making phone calls which affects their sales performance. 

The sad truth is that many people find prospecting very hard work. In fact, research shows that only about 20% of salespeople are fully effective when prospecting. 

That leaves approximately 80% of people struggling with the function of sales prospecting. In most cases it is not due to lack of knowledge, skill, ability or talent, rather most people are afraid to prospect due to the attitudes and beliefs they have formed about prospecting over the years.

Here is some of the research that has been compiled over the last 40 years:

  1. Across industries, the salespeople who sell the most are those who are most willing to get in front of prospective buyers on a consistent, daily basis. They sell more because regardless of their talent, experience, or knowledge, they always have new people to sell to;  
  2. Eighty percent of all salespeople fail to complete their first year because of prospecting distress; their energy is directed towards coping rather than prospecting strategies;
  3. Forty percent of experienced salespeople report one or more episodes of call reluctance severe enough to threaten their career;
  4. The hesitation to initiate first contact with prospective buyers on a consistent daily basis is responsible for the failure of more competent, motivated, capable, revenue generating salespeople than any other single factor. Nothing else even comes close;
  5. Despite content or quality, no training can earn back what it costs unless salespeople initiate contact in sufficient numbers with new and existing clients;
  6. Research indicates that a prospecting hesitant salesperson can cost your company 15 new units of business per month; and  
  7. The only significant predictor for success in sales is the number of contacts initiated with prospective buyers on a consistent basis.

The good news

The good news is that sales prospecting hesitation and fears can be overcome and un-learnt, thus freeing people to prospect in a consistent and confident manner. Whether you identify these behaviours and attitudes via a purpose-built assessment or your own observations, the first step is to recognise and acknowledge if they are holding you or your sales team hostage.   

The second step is to put in place strategies to eliminate these unhelpful attitudes and behaviours. This can be done by giving people access to effective prospecting skills training that shows how to confidently and competently prospect in a professional manner. If hesitation or fear still persists, then we suggest that you invest in training and coaching that gives people insight into their specific prospecting hesitations; well-researched behavioural change strategies that can be applied to overcomes these specific types of fears would also be beneficial.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

NOW READ: When to apply behavioural economics solutions to your business

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Sue Barrett

Sue is a selling better strategist and advisor, sales philosopher and speaker, sales trainer and coach, writer and activist. Sue is chief executive of forward thinking sales advisory Barrett and online sales education and resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Barrett develops sales strategies, standards and education that help people and businesses sell better.

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