Down deep, I am a basics and fundamentals guy. What is necessary to sell well isn’t some great, big, new, and esoteric idea. The big pieces, the activities, the methods, the principles for selling successfully are widely known. They’re just not widely practiced.
I hear salespeople say things like: “I believe what you are saying. I have always believed that this is true.” But then these same salespeople act in ways that are contrary to what they profess to believe.
You Don’t Believe
If you say you believe something to be true but act in ways that are exactly opposite to those stated beliefs, you produce the same outcomes as someone who doesn’t believe. It is the same as if you didn’t believe.
Not taking the actions that you know are necessary to selling well and to succeeding means that you are unwilling to act on your beliefs. Most of this resistance to doing what is necessary stems from the fact that doing what is necessary is much more difficult than not doing so.
You know that developing your pipeline requires constant and consistent prospecting. But prospecting is more difficult than, say, responding to requests for proposals. Not prospecting is the same as not believing that you have to prospect.
You know that you must nurture the relationships you need within your dream clients long before you need those relationships. But focusing on only what is hot and ignoring what isn’t produces the very same outcomes as if you didn’t believe that nurturing relationships is important to winning.
You know that a real discovery process and a real needs-analysis requires that you work deeper in the organization—both up and down the org chart—instead of developing your understanding from your receptive champion alone. But asking for the commitments to access and information is more difficult than not doing so, and so the outcome of not doing a good diagnosis is the same as if you didn’t believe it was important.
You know that you don’t present until you have the necessary information and relationships, and you know that you aren’t really supposed to be trying to win at the boardroom conference table. But your dream client asked for a presentation, and it is more difficult to ask for the time, the access, and the information you need than it is to present a poorly developed solution. Presenting before you have put the pieces in place that allow you to win is the same as not believing that you have to take the actions that stack the deck in your favor long before presentations are given.
The resistance to doing what you know to be true stems from your aversion to doing what is difficult and sometimes unpleasant, including asking for the commitments that you need, asking for access to the people you need on board, and asking for the information that you need to win.
A Bit of Unpleasantness
It is surely more unpleasant to bang out 100 cold calls than it is to spend your time chatting around the water cooler. But believing deeply that building your pipeline of opportunities produces great sales results means you do what might be a bit unpleasant now instead of what is easier. Acting in accordance with what you profess to believe here produces great sales results.
It can sometimes be unpleasant to explain to your dream client that their buying process doesn’t facilitate your helping them to achieve the ultimate result that they seek. But the reward for believing that you need access to people and information, that you need a great diagnosis before you can create a great solution, and that you need the relationships and commitment of the buying team committee members before you present, means that you act in accordance with this belief and you have the conversation.
The reward for doing what is unpleasant is a massively increased likelihood that you win the opportunity and deliver for your dream client.
If you profess to believe a widely accepted principle of effective selling, then your actions must be the visible representation of that belief. Or else, it is clear that you really believe something else.
Are all of your beliefs about selling effectively aligned with the actions that you take? Are some of the actions that you take out of alignment with your beliefs?
Does your failure to take some action reveal a gap between your beliefs and your actions?
Is your failure to act in accordance with your professed beliefs due to the difficult or sometimes unpleasant tasks that are required by your beliefs?
Make a quick list of the actions that you can take that will be better aligned with the fundamental principles of effective selling. What actions do you need to take Monday morning?