The One Word to Stop Using

One of the services I offer clients is selecting and hiring superstar salespeople. I work with them on weeding through resumes and asking questions during interviews. During one of the interviews, last week, I asked a candidate to describe a superstar salesperson, and they replied with, “someone that is helping customers solve problems.” Is this how you describe a superstar salesperson?

My advice to the business owner was to continue looking. Here’s why. The role of a superstar salesperson is to be proactively talking with qualified prospects about their goals and possible challenges; and working with them to discover and uncover the impact of making a bad decision, or no decision at all, to solving them. Let me break that description down to three important points.

First, Stop Helping. Replace ‘help’ with ‘work with’. Helping makes people feel inferior and needing to be rescued. Your actions of helping enables people not to be responsible for making a commitment. If you are helping them once, they will always expect you to help them. Remember the opening credits to the Odd Couple, when Felix was “helping” an older lady cross the street and she didn’t want his help? He got a handbag to the shoulder.

Create an obligation for prospects to take a step when you do – if they want to work with you. To commit when you commit. And to invest in the conversation you are investing. If you are committing and they are not, it can only end with frustration and disappointment, because you are more committed than they are. Build mutual consent during your conversation and you will see your prospect more engaged in their outcome and your sale.

Second, Focus on Finding problems vs. Solving them. Too often salespeople get caught up in their solutions and not finding the problem and the impact (current or latent) of the problem. This is often overlooked or minimized, which can only lead to objections later in the conversation. Prospects need your solution to stick to something. The something is their problem. No stick – no sale. When the salesperson does not convert the impact of the problem to the cost, they are not able to draw the contrast of their cost to your price for the solution. The greater the problem, the greater the impact, the greater the cost, the more prospects are willing to pay.  The greater the contrast, the greater the value! Don’t be a problem solver without first, being a problem finding.

Lastly, Don’t be Assumptive. This is the main reason people don’t like salespeople. They assume everyone has a problem and wants to change. The goal of any sales focused conversation is for the prospect to discover and uncover a problem, because people will change for their reasons, not the salespersons. The prospect is thinking, “What makes you think I want your help;” “What makes you think I need your help.” Your approach to a conversation should be, “I don’t want to assume you have any problems in that area, or you even need my help. Is it ok if I ask you a few questions?” Through your questions, the prospect will discover the need and value of working with you. That is the goal of working with a professional, superstar salesperson.

When hiring or being a superstar salesperson, know the difference between an account manager or customer service representative (reactive) and a superstar salesperson (proactive). Words like ‘help and problem-solver’ can be a giveaway they are not a superstar salesperson.