Today I had a really tough call with a prospect and what I learned from it is sometimes it’s good to say no on a sales call. My title is Product Marketing Manager but I find myself constantly working as a Sales Engineer, an onboard specialist, an IT consultant, a sales team organizer, a social media marker, a support engineer, a video director/producer/actor/editor, and finally when I get through all that, I can work on my tasks of finding new technologies we can use and helping decide and define our product roadmap.
What I have found while talking to prospects and discussing their needs and how to achieve their goals is that a window is opened between the eager sales person trying to close a deal, and the client looking for the magic bullet that solves all of their pain points including world peace. The problem this can cause is a misalignment in expectation and a delivery that falls short and ends like a bad break up.
There are three categories for a products solution:
- Problems it solves
- Problems it can/may ease
- Problems it won’t solve at all
The last item is where all confidence can be lost and where bridges will be burned. This is an area both good and bad sales reps get caught up with. Misrepresenting a product or solution is not only what loses the sale, but also creates a bad press demon that will share their experience with anyone and everyone they can that might be looking into your product or service. But how do you stop this from happening? First look at the reason someone could be misrepresenting your product or service.
- Improper or inadequate training
- Fear of disappointing
- Extreme management stress to close/fill pipeline
- Lack of motivation
The last one pretty much means you have dead weight on your team and you need to trim the fat one way or another, however if everyone on your team is like this, then you need to look into what is wrong with the solution you’re selling or start getting some Gamification practices in right away. The first three items however can be fixed.
Improper Training: Review how you are bringing your new reps up to speed on the product. Is there an easy guide they can review to see what features are and are not offered for your service? Is there an open social line between management, development, and sales to have your reps questions answered when they don’t understand something with your service? If your teams can’t communicate between each other, then you create isolated clicks that never work as a whole to move a company forward.
Feer of Disappointing: We all have this internal instinct to please other people. Something to do with the fear of people not liking us but it’s there. I can see it in myself. The urge not to let someone down, and to be the one to help. This can lead to making promises or leading prospects on to just have the service fall short later.
Extreme Stress: Related to disappointing, this can turn internally to. You don’t want to let your boss down. You’re supposed to be the one they can turn to for results! Or pipeline and sales goals are set too high without looking at past numbers per headcount to set an adequate goal. It’s always good to push for results, but if you’re turning in into an unhealthy environment then you’re going to have employees who are always tired, snippy with one another, and in the end have a high turn over rate. Some people just don’t work out, but if you’re turning over more than 30% of your new hires in under 6 months, you need to review the job requirements, or your hiring practices.
Remember, Sometimes it’s Good to Say No on a Sales Call. If your solution doesn’t solve the problem, or it somewhat meets some needs but not all, just tell them! Prospects respect your honesty, their expectations are set accordingly, and it helps build a trusting relationship that builds the foundation of a happy and long term customer. When my company’s sales reps don’t know the answer to a question, they come to myself and others for answers. It can be disruptive but it makes my job a lot easier later on when I’m working with that prospect as a client.