I am a little tired of that sales chants "find out where it hurts", "solve his problem" and the like. It has gone so far as to even advise people to say when introducing themselves to their potential employer at a job interview, what problem they are solving. C’mon!!! (I am missing some more punctuation here, honestly.)
Despite the current context, many sales professionals, almost religiously, promote this approach. My experience is that it rarely gives results in normal circumstances, and now especially. Of course, this is jut my experience, not an ultimate truth.
Marketing, corporate communications, and even HR, seem to have put on "pink glasses" and most of the posts you can see in the media and on social networks send us messages "everything is fine, we care about employees, unity, communication, synergy, crisis as opportunity. " Not a word about problems.
On the other hand, in personal (online, telephone) contacts, people seem to be more willing to talk about problems now. I recognized two reasons for that: the first - the perception that "problems are exclusively a consequence of the crisis”; the second - there is no awareness that, in addition to the effects of the pandemic, the inactions in the pre-crisis period have only intensified the problem(s) in the crisis.
What is our key risk?
If we really adhere to the principle that identifying problems and solving them is our only goal and only approach, we risk putting ourselves in the role of a psychotherapist instead of a professional salesperson, and we are not experts in that area. To be able to really find out what "hurts someone", and especially the causes of the pain, it is necessary for the level of trust to be high. While trust is not being developed, keep in mind that "when it hurts a lot", then there is probably no money left to spend (see my earlier text about it)
Another risk we are exposed to is that we are expected to take responsibility for implementing the change in the client's organization, but also for the effects (results) of the solutions we sell. One of the reasons why people don't talk openly about problems is that they reveal themselves at the same time. The problems that my clients and those who remained only prospects and were more open, shared with me during these ten years of consulting work, arose by doing or not doing individuals, or groups of people. There was awareness of the problem, but there was often a lack of initiative and concrete activities to solve the problem. This is a matter of responsibility, to more precise - avoiding it. Just look around and you will quickly find fantastic solutions that are implemented in different organizations and not used… Responsibility for the application rests with the sales rep.
What does that have to do with psychotherapy?
At a time when the best things were happening to me professionally, I experienced burnout syndrome at work. Of course, until then I secretly thought it didn’t exist. I quickly realized that I needed support to get out of a situation that I could say oscillated from euphoria to a feeling of extreme confusion (I have no idea what was happening to me). General impression - STUCK! Then I turned to a psychotherapist with years of experience. I learned two things from her that are key to success through psychotherapy:
Voluntariness - the client should make a conscious decision to voluntarily enter the process of psychotherapy and to openly discuss their problems.
Accountability - the client should take responsibility for the activities that he will carry out, which lead him to solve the problem.
The most important moment of my treatment was when I realized that I became aware of and defined my problems, ranked them by priorities, defined goals and activities and that I solved them, NOBODY else. The professional and skilled psychotherapist "just" guided me through MY process. What was her "secret"? Since I am not a psychotherapist, I would explain it like this - she subtly shifted me from whining and worrying about problems, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, blaming the circumstances, into a state of taking constructive actions that unravel my situation.
Every business is currently suffering the consequences of a crisis that we have not yet overcome. Potential customers have a problem, organizations where professional salespeople work have a problem. I already said it, 1 problem + 1 problem = 2 problems, not a solution.
I think I anticipate a way to redefine the B2B approach in the future, so the results are better. However, I don't have a magic wand and I don't have solutions that work in 100% of situations. That’s why I’d love to talk to salespeople and B2B sales managers about it and try to define together something that will bring us all better in the future. I have no intention of doing a webinar, or online training, because I don’t want to tell you what to do, I want to talk.
If you would like to take 2 hours of your time to have a dialogue about this topic, sign up so we could inform you. The online gathering will be in the afternoon hours, one day until the end of January 2021.
Sales Development Consultant