Counting the Cost of Ineffective Selling

One of our Partners recently forwarded me a Harvard Business Review article from the USA relating to why salespeople fail to ‘close the deal’. The Review’s findings were based on a study of more than 230 buyers. These buyers said that, in their experience, 12% of salespeople are excellent, 23% good, 38% average and 27% poor.

This survey says therefore that two thirds of salespeople, in these buyers’ opinion, are average or worse!! The writer specifies 7 key areas where, according these buyers, salespeople fail to deliver.

  1. They are not trusted or respected
  2. They cannot converse effectively with senior executives
  3. They can’t clearly explain how their solution helps the buyer’s business
  4. They are too self-centred
  5. They use the wrong closing strategy
  6. They don’t alleviate the risk of buying their solution
  7. They can’t establish a personal connection with the buyer

We cover all of these aspects within our sales training and see the same as this survey has summarised over and over again. The effect of this is that many businesses with great products or services are not achieving the results that those products/ services warrant as a result of average selling skill or worse. In our experience this can cost businesses 15%, 20%, 25% and more in profitable sales. Let me give you a specific example. A business we started working with in 2016 took our advice in terms of required action with their sales team. We developed this advice and suggested action from watching their sales team in action, in front of their customers, as part of a business review/ analysis. We suggested some changes to which the Managing Director agreed. Following the implementation of these changes the sales report for this company that I read yesterday showed the business almost 20% up on last year.

How and why do businesses ignore these sales increase opportunities? Salespeople don’t deliberately underperform. However they pretty much all lack the self-awareness to see where they are going wrong and unless someone with sufficient sales knowledge and skill can point that out they will continue to do what they do.

Points one to four above are all resolved with a combination of better interpersonal skills, better questioning techniques, improved communication skills and the implementation of a more ‘consultative’ selling style, in seeing the world more as the buyer sees it and understanding the buyer’s needs SPECIFICALLY. This also translates to dealing better with more senior people. Their needs and their world are/is different to those junior to them. Their goals are different, their timescales may be different. Understanding an individual’s specific needs is key. The skilled salesperson then tailors the solution to those needs. Seeing the world from another person’s perspective also starts to eradicate the ‘self-centred’ criticism and once you are in someone else’s ‘world’ personal connections are much easier to create.

It is hard to accept that, as a company, your sales performance in front of customers may be below par. You may not even know that it is. If your front line performance isn’t good you will be missing out on plenty of business and your competitors will be winning business that their products/ services might not warrant. It is well worth getting your sales team benchmarked to establish where they are on the performance chart against best practice and what can be done to get them to the top.

For a free/ no obligation discussion or meeting to discuss your specific sales challenges contact us

 or on 0116 232 5231

David Turner

Managing Director

07747 023610

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