Stop Giving Your Salespeople Rusty Blades

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never met a salesperson who wants to make fewer sales than he or she did last quarter. On the contrary, they want an ever-fatter pipeline and more new business than they can handle.

What are the two ways for a salesperson to get more business? That’s easy: selling into new accounts and selling more to existing accounts.

But how can they do that? They need the right tools at their disposal. When they lack those tools, it’s not often a pretty picture.

When good leads go bad

I’ve seen that the reason many promising sales opportunities go nowhere is because the salesperson has bad tools at his or her disposal.

What do I mean by “bad tools”? A poor value proposition, a mediocre set of differentiators, and of course products and services that haven’t kept pace with the market. Put another way, they’re trying to sell a weak brand to prospects who want to do business with a strong one. In a very real way, they’re being set up to fail.

This isn’t to excuse poor sales techniques that cost some sales, but it does highlight something important that’s not always recognized: Your brand absolutely affects your sales, for better or worse.

Boost your sales with these two upstream efforts

What’s the solution here?

Contrary to what some allege, there are no “hacks” that will bamboozle prospects or existing clients into buying everything your company has to sell. Instead, your company needs to do the necessary (re)branding work upstream so that salespeople can be more successful downstream when they’re representing the brand.

What sort of branding work? Here are two tried-and-true ways to course correct:

  • Rethink the company’s differentiators: That is, why should anyone buy your products or services rather than a) buying from someone else or b) Doing Nothing? Give this some serious thought. Be brutal. Talk to a customer or two.
  • Stop making excuses and answer every objection: Start creating content around all of the objections your sales team has received when trying to sell your products or services — and then answer those objections. Publicly. On your website and in your sales materials.

Your objective, working across departments, is to remove most or all of the risk the prospect or current customer has in buying your product or solution. If there’s risk in their mind, then the chances of them pulling out their checkbook are in serious doubt. But if you remove the risk, then by definition all that’s left is a customer wondering how they go about placing an order with you.

All of this work is part of brand strategy. That’s why brand strategy work offers a tremendous return on investment in almost every case. It makes everything else a business does — including the sales process — more effective. After all, it’s much easier to cut down a tree with a chainsaw than a rusty blade.

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