Are sales leaders clear on what prevents their salespeople from executing what they’ve been trained to do? In a series of posts, we will be discussing the five major hidden weaknesses that can neutralize a sales professional’s strengths and training all at once.
One of the biggest issues facing Sales Leadership is the pricing compression in the market. It’s a buyer’s market, and many salespeople suffer from a hidden weakness that causes them to discount and/or lose the sale when the time comes to talk about price.
This weakness revolves around the salesperson having “money issues.” This weakness can range from being uncomfortable talking about money in general, or about a particular amount of money. It can also include discomfort with asking about someone else’s money situation (i.e., budget discussions).
So where does this “money issue” come from?
Research has tracked it back in many cases to our upbringing — many of us were taught by our parents that it’s rude to talk about money. This belief goes all the way back to your parent’s upbringing, cultural background and/or religious background.
This general belief is reinforced in other areas, such as college, when you’re advised not to discuss salary in your interview. And on your first job, the water cooler discussion revolves around the taboo of what people make and how no one is supposed to talk about it! While I think these last two practices are important business etiquette rules, they can also cause people who get into sales to struggle when it comes time to talk about money.
So where does this problem do the most damage?
For starters, if your salespeople don’t qualify a prospect’s budget, then they could waste a lot of time on someone who can’t afford your product. On the other hand, if the prospect does have the money and is negotiating from strength, a sales rep with money issues will also tend to “give away the house” too often. Also, someone with money issues will also struggle to convince a prospect who wants and needs a product to find the money to spend on it.
How do you fix this issue? It’s important to understand where the money threshold is in terms of how much money is a lot of money for the sales person. For some people it can be as little as $1,000, or as much as $100,000. The key is to understand this so you can decide how far this threshold is from the average transaction value of the salesperson.
From there it will require a lot of role-playing for the salesperson to practice talking about money. It will also be important to work with the salesperson on building value in the product and/or service. Often this last area is also overlooked and can compound existing “money issues.” With desire, commitment, a lot of practice from the salesperson and a good manager, this hidden weakness can be overcome.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest article in our ongoing series on managing sales leaders to get the best performance possible. In our next installment, Alex Bartholomaus will continue to explore the "Five Hidden Weaknesses" common to sales professionals. SEE ALSO: Our First Meeting Went Great, but ... The 5 Hidden Weaknesses in Salespeople.]
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.