Top three reasons for failed sales
By Charles H. Green
Trusted Advisor Associates
What do you consider to be your top three reasons for failed sales?
First, let’s deal with some reasons that really aren’t valid.
Invalid reasons for failure
You’ve probably heard from some customers that they just don’t need your product. From others, that the price is too high. And of course, “I just need to think about it a bit more.”
Let me suggest that those are second-order symptoms — two steps removed from what is really going on. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself: How often have you tried to meet those objections directly, by articulating the value better, by explaining the pricing, by giving them time and calling back? Did those solutions work? Probably not.
Something else is going on when you hear those objections. And if you can figure out what the real issue is, then you’ll want to discover the three real reasons for sales failure.
The real issue
Let me suggest that the real issue is simply that the customer doesn’t trust you.
I don’t mean they think you’re lying, and I don’t mean you’re not ethical and upright. I do mean, however, that they suspect you’re in it a little bit too much for yourself and not for them. I mean that they’re not entirely comfortable sharing everything with you. I mean that they’re a little afraid of getting “taken.” And they’re definitely intimidated by your mastery of the product.
Since they (most of them anyway) are actually polite, the last thing they’re going to say to you is that they don’t trust you. That’s just rude. Instead, they say the socially acceptable things: “The price seems a little too high for me”; “I’m not really sure I need the product”; “I need to think a little more.”
How can you tell? Because if they truly trusted you, what would they say? Probably something like, “Look, I really don’t understand how this works or even how I should think about it. Do I really need this? Is this a fair price? What should I be doing here? How do I know if this is fair?”
And if you’ve never had a customer say something like that to you, then ask yourself why. And ask yourself what it would feel like to be given that kind of trust. Would you like that? I will assume that your answer is a resounding, “Are you kidding? Of course!”
What’s behind being trusted
Your instincts are right. If your customers trust you deeply, you’ll sell far more, far faster, far more easily. So what gets in the way of being trusted? Now we’re down to the three real reasons for sales failure. They are ways you fail to gain the customer’s trust.
1. Listening for data, not respect — Professionals of all kinds make this mistake all the time. They think the point of listening is to extract data. Of course you need the data, but they could mail that in to a robot. The real value in listening — the way that creates trust — is that you listen as a sign of respect.
We must listen without judgment; we must listen to empathize; we must listen to determine what is important to the customer in their terms, not in ours. The purpose of listening is only partly to get the answer; it is mainly because that is how we establish relationships.
The basic human rule of influence is reciprocity: If you listen to me, I will then listen to you. If you do not listen to me, I’m not going to listen to you. It works.
2. Giving the answer too soon — All of us have been raised since second grade to believe that the first one with the right answer wins. Wrong. The one who hears out the customer’s version of the problem is the one who earns the right to give the right answer.
Without first earning the right, being right is useless.
3. Solving your problem, not the customer’s — If you believe the purpose of selling is to get the sale, then you have something in common with a vulture. If, on the other hand, you believe that the purpose of selling is to help the customer satisfy a need, then you will be willing to walk away from the occasional sale simply because the customer doesn’t need what you have.
If that sounds crazy, think about it again. Why would you trust someone who would never stop trying to sell you on their product? In fact, you’d only trust someone who would, in principle, not sell you what you don’t need.
And because that second kind of person is the one you trust; that’s the one you’ll do business with.