A colleague, someone who’s been at the top of his game in sales training for years, sent me a note the other day. One sentence floored me, “I think we are teaching our people how to sell rather than to think.” He went on to say while knowing how to sell is important, it’s no substitute for thinking.
I couldn’t agree more. So much of our training, so many books focus on “how to,” but don’t provide a framework about what we are doing, why we are doing it and what it means. People follow the scripts, but when things go “off script” they’re lost–they have no framework upon which to develop an answer.
We teach people the best questions, but they don’t know how to get answers. We teach people how to talk, but they can’t engage in a conversation. We teach people how to handle objections, but they don’t know why people object. We teach people about our products, but they don’t know about our customers’ businesses. We teach people our value proposition, but they don’t create value for the customer. We teach people to ask for the order, but they don’t get the business.
Sales isn’t formulaic. Many of you know I’m rabid about sales process–but that’s because it frees the sales person to think and engage. No sales process can or should be totally predictive. If it is, it’s being done as eCommerce on the web.
The problem with sales is not that we don’t know how to sell, it’s that we don’t know how to think. Perhaps we are better served by changing. Just a thought……..