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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why Salespeople Win or Lose a Sale, According to the Harvard Business Review

I didn’t get into Harvard. Actually, I didn’t even apply, because I definitely wouldn’t have gotten in. I went to a state school for 4 years, and after graduating went right into sales. However, Harvard can still help salespeople who didn’t attend reach the top of our game with their well-researched articles on sales, sales management, and the science behind selling.
In a recent article, the Harvard Business Review tries to identify the reasons why salesperson lose a sale. According to the research, “in the majority of interviews buyers rank all the feature sets of the competing products as being roughly equal. This suggests that other factors separate the winner from the losers.”
Here are the main takeaways from the article, and some advice on what it means for salespeople.

Different customers prefer different selling styles 

There isn’t one selling style that works best. According to the article:
The survey shows 40% of study participants prefer a salesperson who listens, understands, and then matches their solution to solve a specific problem. Another 30% prefer a salesperson who earns their trust by making them feel comfortable, because they will take care of the customer’s long-term needs. Another 30% want a salesperson who challenges their thoughts and perceptions and then prescribes a solution that they may not have known about.
What this means for you:
Always try to read the customer and adapt your sales presentation to their personality. A pushy, confrontational customer is more likely to respond to a challenge, whereas a reserved customer will be more responsive to a salesperson who listens and makes them feel comfortable.

There’s always a top dog 

Another surprising finding of the study was that despite all of the internal politics involved in a company’s buying process, nearly 90% of respondents said that there is always one member of the decision-making committee who “tries to influence and bully the decision their way.” What’s even more surprising is that the person usually succeeds in getting their way 89% of the time.
What this means for you:
Find out who the pushy alpha-dog is. If you can sell them, you’ll almost certainly close the deal.

Not everyone cares about price

Salespeople tend to dread the price conversation, but perhaps we shouldn’t. The study showed that decision-makers have different tiers of price sensitivity, and some barely care about the price at all.
…the importance of price falls into three categories. For “price conscious” buyers, product price is a top decision-making factor. For “price sensitive” buyers, product price is secondary to other decision-making factors such as functionality and vendor capability. For “price immune” buyers, price becomes an issue only when the solution they want is priced far more than the others being considered.
What this means for you:
Identify your buyer’s level of price sensitivity by asking the right questions up front. Many customers will indicate whether price is a critical factor or not. Also be conscious of the industry you’re doing business in, as the study shows that different industries tend to have their own levels of price sensitivity.

Charisma helps, but not always

While most of us think that the likable salesperson will get the deal every time, Martin’s study shows that’s not necessarily true. Given the choice of the following three types of salespeople:
A professional salesperson who knows their product inside and out but is not necessarily someone you would consider befriending
A friendly salesperson who is likable and proficient in explaining their product
A charismatic salesperson who you truly enjoyed being with but is not the most knowledgeable about their product
Most people said that they would rather do business with the friendly salesperson. However, this varied depending on industry, with the healthcare and manufacturing industries choosing the “professional salesperson” more than most, and the media and fashion industries opting for the “charismatic salesperson.”
What this means for you:
Being a friendly salesperson who understands their product is always a safe bet, but depending on your industry, you might want to either study your product even further, or work on your charisma if you want to increase your effectiveness.
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1 comment:

Melissa Hoover said...
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