Current Issue:

Current Issue

On The Cover:
Cumulus Chairman Jeff Marcus

Click here to subscribe to Radio Ink.

Radio Ink Writers

Stop Selling And Start Solving


By Matt Sunshine

I received an interesting phone call this week from a frustrated sales manager seeking fresh ideas that could help her coach a struggling salesperson to success. This sales veteran had been a steady top performer, but had recently had the wind knocked out of her when she began to suffer some significant attrition to her account base. Stunned by the unexpected loss, she turned to her new-business efforts as backup, but found they were not as focused as they should have been. This lethal combination of attrition and lack of new-business development caused her overall sales to fall short and eventually left her stuck in a big sales slump.

In an effort to motivate her seller, the manager advised her to Just get out there and start selling! While this approach may have felt encouraging to others, for this salesperson, it just sent her on a frustrating wild goose chase. Desperate to stir up activity, the sales rep immediately scheduled as many appointments as she could and then headed out the door to pitch package after package. Her frantic scramble led to a ton of new pending business, but, sadly, not much translated into sales. And because everything was purchased at a discount, she knew that it wasnt likely that these new clients would return.

Increasing sales activity is good and should be used as a key performance indicator, but it needs to be the right type of activity.

The good news is that this manager recognized both the need and the terrific coaching opportunity here. Her mission was to shift this reps attention away from selling schedules and focus it square on providing strong solutions that could achieve long-term, sustainable success.

Its no easy feat to coach a veteran seller with a ton of persuasive power to resist her natural urge to convince the prospect to buy something right now. So it was critical that this manager clearly demonstrate how short-term tactics would only lead to a further decline in the reps monthly billing down the road. She worked to inspire her sales rep to focus entirely on the business challenges she could uncover and the solutions she could provide, rather than just on making the sales, and she continually reminded her that the sales would come. But the manager never allowed this intense focus on solving business challenges to serve as an excuse for a lack of activity. She reinforced the need for the qualified type of activity that would lead to more sales, more customers, and more residual business.

Effectively shifting the focus to solving problems and providing solutions starts with the first face-to-face meeting. During the ideal client needs analysis, a seller would ask a bunch of well thought-out questions in the hope of discovering a business need and solution so valuable that the client would see no choice but to proceed. In reality, however, once salespeople spot an opportunity to close business and make a sale, they often stop digging and go straight into pitch mode. This short-term tactic can leave an important challenge uncovered and money on the table.

Four Steps To Getting The Assignment
So what should you do to make sure this doesnt happen, and you stay focused on finding needs and getting the assignment?

1. Summarize. After you have uncovered two or three needs and challenges, make sure to recap exactly what youve heard. This shows the client or prospect that you have paid attention and you care about their
2. Ask whats missing. After summarizing what youve heard, it is always a good practice to check and make sure your list is complete. Ask if there is anything you have missed and need to add to the list.
3. Prioritize. Once you have nailed down this list of needs and challenges, ask the client to prioritize the list according to what is both important and urgent to them.
4. Confirm. Make sure you confirm that the clients top priority is, in fact, an area of focus by asking if they plan to put the majority of their marketing effort and resources behind it. Then start digging deeper into the nature of this challenge. If they wont confirm in this way, ask them where they will focus their efforts.

Once you understand the most important challenge your customer is facing, youll finally be able to lock in on an assignment and get them to sign off on it. At that point, your prospect will be excited to see what you come back with, and youll be on the verge of making a sale as well as earning a client.

Matt Sunshine is EVP of the Center for Sales Strategy. E-mail:

(7/20/2014 4:05:50 PM)
lnp0Jy <a href="">jzmrpzfkoqfy</a>, [url=]pubwdwvzsqay[/url], [link=]pvbwoldpaayq[/link],


Add a Comment | View All Comments


Send This Story To A Friend