Sales growth begins at the root and is unseen
Have you ever experienced planting your lawn by seed rather than laying sod?
If so, you are likely familiar with the concern you feel after seeing no growth nor signs of life after the first week. This leads to subsequent doubts, which come to you in the form of questions such as, “Is this working?” or “Did I do it right?”
Without visible signs of growth, you are left with doubt…that is, unless you know what to expect!
We have become more of a ‘sod culture’ in which one minute we have dirt, the next, green grass. We love the simplicity of processes like ‘First, lay sod with green-side up, then water daily until lawn is established.’ Easy!
No Root, No Fruit!
For the experienced lawn professional, whether laying sod or seeding, they understand that the most important step is in the preparation of the soil. Once seeds have been appropriately planted, the lawn pro is not distracted nor deterred by lack of initial growth above the soil. That is not expected at this stage.
The professional recognizes the most critical growth is that which is unseen…below the surface. Therefore, they are committed to the right process and follow a certain choreography, which allows the roots to be established and eventually leads to a beautiful, lush lawn.
For growth to happen above the soil, it must first happen below the soil
When it comes to sales professionals, there often times is a lack of commitment to follow the choreography, which intentionally penetrates the surface to establish roots, resulting in break-through growth. The Challenger Sale choreography aims squarely at doing this, getting well beneath the surface from the Reframe straight down through Emotional Impact.
Not so for the Relationship Seller as their interpretation of the Challenger choreography treats the Warmer as bonding and rapport, which leads to their Solution as the rapport builds. For these reps, their natural tendency will be to keep conversations at or above the surface as if to maintain a conversational stasis or equilibrium.
If they never get to the root, there will most certainly be no fruit yielded from the conversation. Instead, count on a long, fruitless, sales cycle and a rep that mistakenly believes that, “It’s just a matter of time before they are ready to buy. After all, our conversation went very well.”
“I have the solution to your problem! By the way, what is your problem?”
Another common [but highly ineffective] approach reps use to maintain this pleasant equilibrium is to introduce the product or solution immediately into the conversation. Prospects are often quick to get to product as well, especially when the reason for your call to them stemmed from a lead.
A couple of years ago, I was brought in to improve a team’s ineffectiveness with conversions. I did a time study to evaluate how soon into the call they brought up their own solution. 83% of their calls introduced their solution within a minute or less of the prospect answering the phone. 14% of the calls had solutions introduced within 2 minutes of answer. The remaining 3% were generally customer service calls.
While the problem above may seem severe, it is not unique to this team. In fact, a cursory review of some of today’s most popular sales forums reinforces how often this does happen.
Therefore, to help sales and marketing teams better understand the problem, I created the visual above based upon CEB’s framework for The Challenger Sale Choreography. This visually illustrates the foolishness of expecting the growth seen at the Solution stage, despite skipping over the Reframe through Emotional Impact where the seeds are just beginning their growth. By overshooting this and going straight to solution, the rep has significantly lowered [if not eliminated] their chance of conversion apart from luck.
For the Sales Leaders or Reps that are already familiar with The Challenger Sale, this is a reminder to stay committed and disciplined to the well-defined choreography that CEB’s research turned up.
For those unfamiliar with the specifics of The Challenger Sale, but have merely heard about the research, I highly recommend you buy the book to better understand how to create “intentional, predictable and repeatable results.”
Jeff Michaels is a Sales & Marketing Executive that has worked with executives, leaders, & teams for 25 years to create repeatable success regardless of industry, economy or circumstance.