The other day, my office got a new coffeemaker. To replace our single-button machine, we'd chosen a top-of-the-line one. But after unboxing it, our excitement transformed into confusion, followed by frustration: With so many knobs and buttons, nobody could figure out how to make a cup of coffee.
In the time it took us to get the go-juice flowing again, I reflected on how ridiculous the situation was. Our coffeemaker was a "professional" model, meant for offices. Why would something intended for the workplace, where time is precious, be so complicated?
But simplicity doesn't just save time when it comes to coffee. Sales, another thing every company needs, is best kept simple -- but a lot of companies fail to keep themselves from complicating this crucial aspect of business.
Complexity can clog the revenue pipeline in four areas in particular:
There's no question about it-- today's sales tools are amazing. Sales enablement software can manage marketing content, track existing customers' engagement, provide automated training tips and so much more. But the truth is that most sales teams don't need more features; they just need more time.
Jeff Winters, CEO of Regie and Sapper Consulting, No. 258 on the 2018 Inc. 5000, suggests slimmer software actually accelerates sales. "Sales tools should make a person either twice as efficient or twice as effective. Either way, you should be able to do more with less," he explained.
Rather than choose sales software solely because of what it can do, take a Goldilocks approach. Think about what's slowing your team down, and invest in a "just enough" solution. If automating email follow-ups is all you need, for example, you might even be able to get away with a freemium Chrome extension.
Despite what the "B2B" label implies, businesses don't make purchases; people do. "At the end of the day, connecting to the right people, as an entrepreneur, as an individual, that's what results in life-changing opportunities," notes Falon Fatemi, founder of Node.io. Once Google's youngest employee at age 19, Falon made Marie Claire's New Guard 2017 list of businesswomen changing the world.
Rather than put as many "hooks" into an organization as possible, take a person-to-person approach. Figure out who the decision maker is: If the company doesn't have a head of procurement, do department heads make purchasing decisions? After identifying who you're actually selling to, find points of rapport. Do you share an alma mater? Are you both parents of preschoolers?
I used to make more than 100 cold calls a week. One time, I got a lashing from a prospect. I pulled up LinkedIn -- we went to the same college. I missed that opportunity because I didn't take the time to find a common bond.
Whether or not your salespeople use a script, they should never rely on it. "I have seen sales people spend hours creating presentations and then become so dependent on the slideshow and every detail that they are no longer aware of vital buying signals," warns Grant Cardone, a Fortune 500 sales trainer and multimillion-dollar real estate mogul.
Cardone's advice? Don't worry about hitting every detail in the script. Presence matters more than presentation. Silence your phone, and bring only what's necessary. Before walking into the room, listen to your breath for a minute or two. If you feel it slipping away, focus on your senses to ground yourself.
I'm a firm believer in never pitching until you understand the problems of the people you're pitching. This is old-school sales, yet so often forgotten. I worked with a client on reimagining the brand's sales process for its digital agency. In the leadership meeting, I challenged the order in which they conducted the pitch. They now call it the "Gene Play" to listen first to understand.
When it comes to closing the sale, many salespeople get skittish. But prospects don't want to get hung up on price, either; all they want is to know that their investment will be worthwhile.
"It's easier and more effective to put the value you create first, demonstrating the results and the outcomes that your dream client is going to receive for their investment," says Anthony Iannarino. Ranked fourth among Global Gurus' top 30 sales experts worldwide, Iannarino also authored The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commandments That Drive Sales.
When closing, remind listeners that you understand the challenge or opportunity. Explain how your solution solves (or enables) it better than others on the market. When someone inevitably asks about cost, remain low-key but confident in your response. Reinforce what makes your product worth its price.
When your revenue machine needs work, it's tempting to think the answer lies in more bells and whistles. But simplicity saves time, and most importantly, it sells.