Think that last sale did or didn't happen for the usual reasons?

Your salespeople succeed or fail. Something clicks between them and some of their buyers some of the time. You continue to train in the usual way, and expect the usual results.

Why not expect more sales success than you're used to? As marketplace pressures and product commoditization increases, can you afford not to? Enabling your salespeople to withstand - and deliver on - higher expectations is expensive - in dollar- and change- costs. You'll have to rethink your sales approach. Put more time than you're used to into training. Get to know your buyers and your salespeople with as much subtlety as you know your spouse. You might prefer your usual success rate to making that kind of commitment.

If not, here are some tactics. Don't take my word on their effectiveness.

Thinking your way to higher sales

If a salesperson doesn't close every deal, blame the salesperson. Not the pricing, product, timing, literature, buyer - or any other excuse. It fell through because your salesperson didn't figure out what emotion-driven behavior makes a difference with that buyer, and apply it. This is very different from knowing what product and price the buyer wants. Otherwise supplying the right product and price would work all the time. It doesn't. Especially if you haven't gotten in the door.

Training to understand behavior means training far less on product and price. What emotion will you need to stimulate in a buyer in order to get more buying behavior? It's like knowing to say or do “x” in order to get your spouse to say or do “y.” It takes vast emotional intelligence to create outcomes you both like.

The first step is knowing your own emotional dynamics. Do you possess the trait needed to stimulate a given prospect's buying behavior? If you have it, do you know how to apply it? If you lack it, can you learn to approximate it so that your prospect feels as though you have the yin to his yang, and he'll gladly sign on the dotted line?

Sales-driving personality traits can be learned - even by those who don't come by them naturally. Rather than fire the rep who can't close, teach him to engender the emotion that makes buyers feel comfortable closing themselves. Got a rep who can't cold call? Teach her specific skills for side-stepping the emotion in her way. Because buying behaviors are visible and deconstructible, the thoughts behind them can be understood and the behaviors transferred.

Individualization - understanding and matching the psychology of the seller and sell-ee - beats commoditization every time. Of course, it requires on-going coaching that differs from sales training. Salespeople will need time and reminding to learn to interweave their behavioral whats/hows/whys with those of their individual prospects. Selling without coaching is like “practicing” in front of the money. Would you risk a great opportunity on a dress rehearsal?

You hired people you thought well of. Why not expect more of them? Invest in these great individuals, so they get smarter about themselves and the individuals who buy. Expect this intelligence to drive behaviors that bring more to your bottom line.

We expected more, and got it.

Charles Hauck is President of Growth Dynamics. 610-431-0951.