One of the most common comments Sales VP’s make in speaking about their team is that they fail to ask for the order, or go in for “the close”. Now I can hear some of you saying “close, no no no, we don’t do that in sales today”. I don’t take that comment so literally, I think it refers to a scenario we all have seen, where there is an opportunity to move the process forward, or everything is in place, and rather than moving to implementation, both the seller and the buyer allow for creep, creating an ongoing cycle, rather than to the objectives set out at the start. A condition I call “Sales Blind”. The sale goes on and on, things look good, but never materialize, and then you discover another vendor won the opportunity. I find this happens with a couple of types of reps, who are two side of the same coin.
The Forever Seller
First are those sales people who are really great at selling and love the discovery process to no end, literally. They will reach out to anyone in the buying company to get the right answer, and the right people engaged in the process. They ask questions that not only demonstrate their depth of knowledge of the subject, and at the same time get the prospect to think and rethink what they set out to buy and achieve. They enjoy the process so much, completing the deal leads to their fun ending (till they start the next sale), and as a result at times it seems they make little effort to close the deal, as it will end their party. Sounds absurd, but if you have managed many sales people, you have had one of these people on your team. I had one, this was one of the best sales people I worked with, but would never take things to the last next step. I was and am convinced that it was not a question of ability, but one of “the hunt being more fun than the kill”. Being “Sales Blind” they are happy selling without regard for the outcome.
The second is the hard core relationship seller. I often ask groups of sales people what they want to do with new prospects they meet. The ones who answer “create rapport” or “build a relationship”, fall in to this group. Have you ever had someone on your team who was loved by the clients and prospects, yet continuously came up short at the end of the year? This is them. Relationships are great, but what they should doing for new prospects and clients is helping them achieve objectives, through that process they will also help their employer by generating revenue.
There is a Cure
The good news is that “Sales Blindness” is a curable condition. Through active coaching and setting account/opportunity based milestones and timelines. This will surface key barriers that the rep needs to eliminate and reestablish some deal vision. Both these types of sellers have the requisite skills, they are just blinded a bit from seeing past a point, once you help them through that they are often your best reps and role models for other team members.