I was doing a 1:1 training with a particularly reluctant client who was struggling with mattress sales. After some conversation and observation, it was painfully obvious that because she didn’t practice, she did not have a set way to move the clients through the selling process.
Like a ship without a rudder she floundered in each interaction. My client asked questions that didn’t advance the sales. She spent too much time talking about every mattress brand. Instead of pivoting to learn more about her customer, she answered customer questions with her own opinions. The only constant during my observation was the inconsistency of her presentation from one customer to the next.
Work Your Plan
Without any fanfare, I walked her to a particular mattress and asked what she knew about it. I asked her to lay on it and tell me her opinion of it’s feel. Based on her responses I took her to a second mattress and asked the same set of questions.
Interestingly, she shared that “it doesn’t matter how it feels, I’m not buying it. Who can afford a $3,000 mattress!” Bingo! We sidestepped that important comment and continued until we found a mattress she genuinely liked.
While she was laying on her newly minted “favorite” mattress, I explained how I used a simple selling process on her. It allowed me to navigate all the way to her Objection to the prices of the very mattresses she is trying to sell. (That’s a whole different issue we will unpack at another time!)
The Big Leagues
Major League Baseball players practice their swings in batting cages. They practice recognizing the various pitches and how to attack them. They practice adjusting their swings for pitches on the inside or outside of the plate. These players even study when NOT to swing. These professionals do this and more because they know their ONLY weapon against the best pitchers in the League is a smooth, confident, well practiced swing.
The best attorneys practice everything from selecting jurors to the closing argument well before they step into a courtroom. The best surgeons spend weeks working on the most complicated procedures before stepping into the surgical theater.
Use Your Tools
The same applies to Sales Professionals. Product knowledge is important. So is role play. And just as important are presentation “post-mortems”. All of these are the tools at the disposal of every salesperson who is willing to use them.
In the theater, the actor who doesn’t know his lines waits for help from someone standing in the wings. Those who cannot smoothly bring the script to life are simply not convincing actors. They can’t just “wing it” or “make it up on the fly.
The most efficient path to failure is coming to the game unprepared. Sure, my client will close a sale every now and then. She may even get lucky and hit a home run, but her lack of preparation and the inconsistency of her swing is and will remain painfully apparent… until she gets in the batting cage and puts in some work!