Understanding the 5 Hidden Weaknesses in Salespeople, Part III

By Alex Bartholomaus

Remove indecision by eliminating the weaknesses within your sales team. In a series of posts, I will continue discussing the five major hidden weaknesses that can neutralize a sales professional’s strengths and training all at once.

One of the biggest frustrations for sales leadership is when prospects decide to “think it over.” This also frustrates salespeople, yet they continue to struggle with the problem. Let’s go a little deeper into the problem to better understand the contributing variables.

The Prospect

Introverts generally like to take more time to make a decision than extroverts, and it helps to classify your prospect early in the process so expectations can be managed.

From there, you need to understand what’s driving their buying decision in terms of technical information or success stories. Some people crave lots and lots of product information before they make a decision. Others are fearful that if they buy something untested, then bad things could happen. It is important to understand this second part of classifying an introvert so the sales approach can be tailored.

The Salesperson

Through a couple of decades of research, sales development author and award-winning blogger Dave Kurland discovered that salespeople sell how they shop. The implication is that a salesperson who likes to “think it over” when shopping will, in turn, be reluctant to press a prospect who wants to “think it over.” They perceive it as hypocritical to expect a prospect to do something different than what they’d normally do. This is why they’re always neutralized by the three dreaded words. In my industry, we refer to their propensity to buy on the spot versus taking a long time to make a purchase as Buy Cycle.

(An important note: In some cases, when a salesperson has a long buy cycle (i.e., likes to think it over), the weakness does not hinder them as much if they the sales cycle is as long.)

When the sales cycle is short (i.e., one- to two-call close), then you need salespeople who have short buy cycles. They key is to understand the difference between the company’s sales cycle and the person’s buy cycle and the distance between them will drive the amount of time needed to fix the issue.

How Do You Fix This Issue?

Being aware of the tendency to be a price shopper or someone who likes to shop around and even haggle will help sales management overcome this salesperson weakness. Once sales management is aware, they need to focus on how to handle the objection, via role-playing. They also need to focus on making sure that the salesperson is working the sales process correctly. Generally, “think it overs” can be reduced if the sales process was followed. Additionally, teaching your sales force to profile buyers in terms of their buying motives and whether they’re extroverted versus introverted will provide more powerful information to face this hidden weakness.

Alex P. Bartholomaus is managing partner at People Stretch Solutions and works to help small to mid-sized companies drive growth and profits. He combines a non-traditional approach of psychology, behavioral science and emotional intelligence to help sales forces and leadership teams perform at higher levels.
Originally published: Dec 1, 2011

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