Top 5 Reasons That You Might Suck at Sales

#5) You’re Lazy

You “fell into” sales because you believed there was no structure or rigorous discipline required.  And while there is no one telling you when to get your sorry ass out of bed, or watching you when you clock out after lunch, there is a structure and discipline that is required for successful selling; especially today.  If you don’t have the gumption to create this structure and discipline for yourself, for God’s sake get someone to help you.

#4) You Speak Like a Moron

If every phrase or sentence that comes out of your pie hole is an overused metaphor, buzzword, or analogy, then you need to relearn how to speak.  After all, if you want to be on the same page, hit the ground running, and have your ducks in a row, then you need to zoom out to a 30,000 foot view and realize that your buyers have seen this movie before.  They’ve seen all the robust, seamless, cutting edge, actionable, and epic products and solutions out there.  If this sounds like you then you need to reach out to someone for help.


#3) You Don’t Care About Buyers’ Goals and Objectives

Being in sales presupposes that you have high economic values.  However, if all you care about is YOUR financial gain then you are wasting your buyer’s time AND you won’t achieve your goal.  The current buyers’ landscape requires that sellers have a vested interest in the outcome of their buyers.  While not caring about the buyers’ outcome may have short term success, you will eventually be found out.  The law of Karma is amplified in a hyperconnected world.  If this describes you then you need help reconnecting with WHY you are doing what you are doing.  Get help please.

#2) You are not prepared

Because of #5 and #3, you don’t bother to prepare.  You believe that your looks, charm and ability to think on your feet will win the day.  Buyers aren’t impressed.  Not only do you have to understand your buyer’s business but you have to add something to their understanding of their business. You have to change their minds about how they view their business.  This requires preparation.  If you don’t know how to effectively prepare for a buyer engagement then please get some help.

#1) You are Completely Full of **it

There is absolutely no connection between who you are and what you do.  Some call this a lack of congruence.  I call it living a lie.  Your buyer calls it an endless and unrelenting stream of BS.  Breaking through in this selling environment requires authenticity.  That means being in true alignment with why you are doing what you are doing.  It also means being in true alignment with your buyers’ goals and objectives which, in most cases, occur AFTER you close the transaction.

If you are afflicted by these symptoms don’t be too hard on yourself.  These symptoms are the result of years of poor instruction and bad conditioning.  It takes real commitment and courage to eradicate them from your life.  If you or someone you know are plagued by these issues please do us all a favor, and reach out for help.

Competitor or Partner?

We spend a lot of time strategizing about how to win over our competition in a sales cycle.  We have entire departments dedicated to finding out the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors.  And we should study and understand our competition.  But not to the point where we are blinded to what our competitor can teach us in a sales cycle.

If we look at the ecosystem of a sales cycle as a whole, competitors are necessary for us to win.  In that sense, your competitor is your partner in the selling process.  For example, if we end up on a short list with a particular competitor we can learn a great deal from them.

Before we begin “setting traps” or “creating FUD” (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about our competitor we should unbiasedly ask and answer these questions:  What about their product, company, sales team is attractive to the prospect?  What is cool about their product?  Are they providing something beyond the product or service itself?  Who in the prospects organization is their champion and why does their champion like them?

If we think of our competitor as a partner in the selling process and honestly and objectively answer these questions (and others) it will give us great insight into what the prospect is looking for.  And if we combine what we learn with what we have independently discovered about the prospect, we will have the information we need to win the business.

OH.. **IT!!

In one of my previous blogs I discussed the importance of how we talk about our prospects or customers when they are not around.  I recently was having lunch with a colleague named “Jim” who told me the following story:

Jim had managed to work his way to the CEO of an organization to sell his solution.  After numerous meetings he was a bit discouraged because he didn’t seem to be making much progress.  The only thing that was progressing was the amount of follow-up information he was asked to generate after every meeting.  So, he reached out via email to a colleague to get some additional ROI information for the prospect.  The colleague emailed back asking some additional quesitons about what he was trying to accomplish there.

Jim clicked back, “I’m trying to get this dumb-ass to buy something.”

The appropriate ROI information was eventually sent back to the CEO of the organization and yes… the unthinkable happened.  The email was sent with the trailing thread that included the “dumb-ass” quote.  Jim said there was a second after that send button was pushed that he irked in horror “OH SHIT!”

So what happened then?  Jim immediately called his boss to tell him what had happened.  They discussed a few options.  Since the comment was at the bottom of the thread, they could take the chance that the CEO would never read it.  Or they could ‘fess up and take their licks.  They decided on the latter.

Jim went to the CEO and told him what happened.  He told the CEO that indeed, it was he that was the dumb-ass.  The CEO, who obviously was not a dumb-ass as accused and was actually quite a thoughtful person, lectured Jim that he needed to be more careful about what he said and wrote about his prospects.  After the lecture the CEO told Jim that despite this error he still wanted to consider Jim’s product.

Jim got the order last week.

There are lessons to be learned here the least of which is to never put in writing derogatory comments about your prospects or customers.  More importantly, we should avoid the mindset where we are disparaging our prospects or customers in any way.  We (our products and services) are not the center of their universe.  It is our job to earn their mind share.  Somehow, in ways not necessarily as overt as this story, your attitudes about your prospects and customers will manifest themselves.

The Casualty of Multitasking

In Aikido, there is an exercise called Happo Waza.  The meaning of this is “eight ways”.  We move our attention in one direction and move our body in the same direction.  Then we move in another direction… and another… and another.  We do this in 8 different directions.  One of the teachings that I take from this exercise is that we cannot move in multiple directions at once.  We cannot focus our attention in multiple directions at once.

Wikipedia defines multitasking as:

the performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking. An example of multitasking is listening to a radio interview while typing an email. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.

Notice the phrase “appearing to handle more than one task”.  The definition also includes the idea that multitasking results in “time wasted”  because it causes “more errors due to insufficient attention”.

In Sales, there is another casualty of the multitasking culture.  It is relationship.

Do you know salespeople that cannot sit down and have a conversation with you without checking their email, phone or voicemail?  I’ve seen salespeople behave like this in front of customers.  What message does this behavior convey?  It is simple.  “I’m so important that what is happening on my Blackberry is far more important than you.”

That’s sick.  Get over yourself.

Your ability to focus fully on the customer or colleague who is immediately in front of you is directly proportional to the quality of relationship that you will have.

My Favorite Scene in Mad Men

To me, this is what sales should be all about.  Finding a way to reach people at a personal level… a place that everyone has, but few, especially in the business world, ever reach out and grab. Establishing this kind of vulnerability and relationship with your prospect is what can make your profession meaningful… And as a byproduct, make you a whole bunch of money.