I often tell my clients that effective selling is a combination of physiology, psychology, and consultative skills. And for too long, sales organizations have only focused on teaching salespeople hard selling skills. It’s time for a new perspective. We live in the Information Age. Salespeople have access to more information on sales than ever before. They have podcasts, webinars, books, and workshops. In fact, American companies spend roughly $20 billion on sales training every year.
So we have to ask ourselves this question: With all this good information available, why are we still facing some of the same challenges in sales that we did 25 years ago? Based on research from CSO Insights, only 63% of salespeople actually make their quota. Can you imagine if every part of a company managed to these success stats?
- 37% of products produced would be defective
- 37% of invoices issued would be incorrect
- 37% of customer service calls would go unanswered
The above stats aren’t acceptable, and neither is our acceptance of poor quota attainment. One of the root causes of lack of sales revenues is that most sales managers work on the wrong end of the problem. In an effort to improve close ratios, they coach and teach their sales team even more hard selling skills. They ignore soft skill training and emotional intelligence (EQ) skills, due to lack of knowledge or belief. Research from Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, shows that people with high EQ make an average of $29,000 more per year than people with low EQ.
Here’s a reality check. Most salespeople know what to do. But under difficult selling situations, they buckle and default to nonproductive selling behaviors. Emotions start running the meeting rather than effective selling and communication skills. Salespeople present solutions too soon — even though they know they should be asking questions. A salesperson offers a discount, right after attending a negotiation-skills training course.
So CEOs and sales managers, what can you do?