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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Mar 8, 2016 10 min read

Your Sales Process Is Repelling Great Prospects

Inbound Sales Removes All The Barriers To Saying 'Yes'

Inbound Sales MistakesI’m a huge movie fan and one of my favorites is "Tommy Boy." Not because it’s a classic (we all know it’s not), but it’s the classic honesty bumbler makes good at sales, and there are a number of truly poetic scenes in this movie that ring true in today’s hyper sales environment.

Tommy is sitting with his pal in the customer’s office. The customer has a model car on his desk and Tommy picks it up to explain how he keeps ruining their sales opportunities because he’s trying too hard. What looks like a great opportunity is spoiled because he asks the wrong question, pays the wrong compliment or tells the wrong joke — he’s trying to sell, instead of just being himself.

While this is a classic scene and a funny movie, it gives me the opportunity to talk about your salespeople, your sales process, your sales experience and how right now it’s causing your prospects to run for the hills. Inbound sales might be the answer.

It’s Too Aggressive

Always be closing, right? Wrong. How do you feel when a salesperson tries to close you? You feel angry, defensive, on guard and you don’t even want to talk to them. That’s exactly how your prospects feel, even your best prospects. People don’t want to be sold, and today they’re doing everything in their power to avoid those sales situations.

People buy things and say "yes" to you when they feel safe. This is not a theory; it’s a fact. Studies on the psychology of human purchase behaviors show that two elements need to be in place before anyone buys anything: one, they need to be safe, and two, their pain needs to be acute. Without this, you can try to convince them to buy, but it's going to take time and energy, and in the end you’re going to fail more times than you succeed.

Asking for appointments, or offering to send contracts and asking for their credit card information before they allow you the right to ask, is not going to work, and it’s going to work less and less as buyers get smarter. Stop pressuring your prospects and start helping them.

It’s All About You

Stop talking about you. Stop telling them how many trucks you have or how long you’ve been in business or how many people you have in the company. Stop with the capabilities presentations, the demos, the free trials, the sample programs and the company history. Your prospects don’t care about you. They only care about how you’re going to help them fix what’s wrong in their lives.

Make it all about them. Ask them questions, get to know them and tell them stories. Stories they can relate to, stories that seem similar to them, stories about how you’ve helped other people like them and the outcomes those people realized. This is the fastest way to get your prospects to know, like and trust you. This is the secret to making them feel safe. If they know you, like you and trust you, they’ll be safe enough to say "yes."

You Haven’t Looked At It Through Your Prospects' Eyes

Most sales leaders have never looked at their own sales process through the eyes of their prospects. What does it sound like when you have the first call? What about the second call? What are you emailing them? What links are you sending along? What materials are you sharing? What questions are you asking, if any? Most of us are very astute. Does it feel like your company is trying to sell something, or does it feel like your company is trying to get to know your prospects?

Consider secret shopping. We do this for most new clients to see what the sales process and response experience feels like to us, the outsider. In almost every scenario our clients are surprised at how bad it is. Long delays in responses, poor communication and no apparent interest in who we are or what we need — only information about them. That's not an effective way to get people to feel safe.

This works for B2C too, and in some ways, it’s shocking how bad most B2C experiences are and how accepting most owners or CEOs are of the failing. Poor retail experiences, lack of structured communication with customers, rude customer service people and ineffective call centers. We recently wrapped up a program with a client who was asking us to generate phone calls, only for us to find out that the 800 number was a recording that prompted prospects to call another 800 number. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how execution is almost always the issue.

There’s No Education

Most prospects enter into the sales process with the hope of learning something. If you look at the buyer journey, it almost always starts with people trying to learn more than they currently know so they can make a safe purchase decision. They learn as much as they can on their own until they feel like engaging with a company will help them continue their quest for knowledge. They’re hoping the company will educate them even more.

Along comes the traditional salesperson and the experience stops. Now highly qualified prospects are left with an option — continue with the aggressive salesperson or find another company to do business with. Today, most are picking the second option.

Make sure your sales team understands the new rules. They need to go out of their way to educate their prospects. The better job they do making prospects smarter, the more new customers they’ll bring into the organization. There’s data showing the more educational information that is provided and the more a prospect engages with that information, the higher the close rate and the shorter the sales cycle.

It’s Not Mapped Out

You have a process for engineering new products, for paying your bills, for reviewing people and planning your long-term goals — why not a documented sales process? Every business should be able to produce, on demand, a document that clearly outlines step by step what a salesperson should do and when.

If you don’t have this, I guarantee you have salespeople who are wasting high-quality leads.

I’m sorry to say that most of you have at least one of these issues going on right now and some of you have all of these issues in play. The faster you diagnose and remedy these issues, the faster you’ll close more new customers, the faster you’ll close new customers more expeditiously and the faster you’ll see your average revenue per new client start to tick up.

What’s even more shocking to me is how easy it is to fix almost all of this and how many CEOs or sale leaders choose not to even address these issues for fear of making the sales team distracted, annoyed or uncomfortable. Yes, it’s going to take work, but it’s some of the best time you could ever spend making your company extraordinary instead of incredibly ordinary.

Even Tommy Boy eventually realizes that if he just acts authentic and is honest, his prospects are happy to do business with him.

If this sounds like you, in tomorrow’s article I’ll share some quick fixes for all of the challenges outlined above. In the meantime, try our Start Today Tip to assess the sales situation in your business.

Start Today Tip – Before you can fix anything, you should be aware of where you stand. Ask a friend to fill out a form on your website or call your sales team. Give them the information they need to sound like a legitimate prospect and have them document or collect information on every interaction. Ask them to jot down how they feel at each step. These feelings are critical. People make purchase decisions emotionally and then rationalize their decisions after the fact. Chart your process with the experience your friend documented and you’ll get a great perspective on the work you have in front of you. More on how to fix these challenges tomorrow.

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.