Photo of Paula Skaper
by on in B2B Marketing, Sales Skills

The job of a sales person is never really to convince someone to buy your products or your services. It is simply to remove the obstacles to buying, so that your prospect can make her own decision with confidence.

Because we all bring our own baggage to the party, that sounds simpler than it is.

“I Want to Play Guitar”

Those words have been spoken by countless 15-year old boys. Last weekend, they came from a young man stuck at home during a pandemic, cut off from his social circle, cooped up, and bored. What happens next is a revealing lesson in selling.

Off they went to Vancouver’s main place to buy musical gear. A massive two story building with everything you could possibly need to play live, record your music, or learn an instrument. There is even a decent music school on-site.

The trouble is, neither the boy nor his mother knew anything about playing music. They stood before a wall of instruments 20′ high, overwhelmed. Then mom asked for help. The sales person began by telling her he was busy with customers (?!), then pointed them to the cheapest beginner set in the store, before wandering off.

They left, empty handed and disappointed.

Fortunately, mom was persistent. At the next store, the sales rep was enthusiastic and encouraging. He helped them find exactly the guitar they were looking for, then put together a bundle that included everything a beginning player might need and made a sale that was more than double the price of the ‘beginner package’ the first sales rep had so dismissively offered.

Are Your Sales Reps Making These Mistakes?

The principles of a healthy sales mindset are the same, whether you are in B2B sales or retail. And in a world where opportunities to make a real human connection are rare, they’re more important than ever.

The salesperson in that first store made these 6 common mental errors:

Short-sighted Thinking – In this case, the first salesperson heard ‘beginner’ and thought “not worth my time”. He was focused on one-and-done, not a relationship. The one in the second store heard that same word and thought “new customer for life”. Which one do you want working for you?

Not Asking Enough Questions – Had the first rep asked more questions, he might have discovered that while mom knew nothing about music, she has professional musicians in the family. Overwhelmed did not mean clueless. He might also have learned that resale value was a consideration, as was the overall quality of the instrument. Both of which were missing from his recommended buy. Are your sales people curious enough to reveal the prospect’s true buying criteria?

Inserting His Own Beliefs Into the Sale – By immediately going to the cheapest possible option, the rep showed a personal belief that a beginning player is either underserving of, or unable to afford, a reasonable quality instrument. As a result, he based his suggestion on a belief the prospect didn’t share, costing himself the sale. Do you work with your reps on their all-important mental game?

Over-Reliance on Buyer Personas – A single mom who clearly doesn’t play. A 15-year old boy. Both casually dressed. Neither a name brand nor a musical mentor anywhere in sight. Too conservative to be starving artists, too average to be an indulgent parent. Have buyer personas become so specific and narrow that you’re routinely disqualifying real prospects?

Ignoring the Customer’s Vision – The rep failed to recognize that as important as buying ‘something to learn on’ was the vision of playing well and the excitement of starting a new adventure. By only offering one choice, our rep completely took away the joy of that experience. The motivation to learn was diminished and the desire to buy was lost. Do your salespeople understand the experience your prospect needs to feel satisfied?

Not Making It Easy to Buy – Because the buyers were left without knowing what to do next, they couldn’t have bought that entry level package even if they had wanted to. The reps behaviour added friction to the buying process. Does your sales process put unnecessary obstacles in the way of closing the deal?

Mind Over Matter

In my own sales career, I’ve learned that the tactics of selling are useless if my head is in the wrong place. Improving my mental game as a sales-person doubled my closing rates, and increased the dollar value of my average sale.

As we’re all adjusting to a new way of working that has moved the sales conversation out of the boardroom and into a Zoom room, it’s easy to let the mental strain of living through the worst global health crisis in over a century get in the way. The companies that not only survive, but thrive, through the next 12 months will be those who equip their sales teams with both the technological tools and the mental tools to excel in this ‘new normal’.






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