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The Chronicles of a Chad Salesman - Six Common Sales Mistakes In Real Life Format!
Level 2 - Value Investor
Welcome Avatar! Today we have a guest post from our resident sales expert BowTiedSalesGuy. As you know M&A investment banking, Sales and Tech are the best viable careers at this point to get relatively rich *at a young age*. With that said here is a methodical example of how to avoid 6 common sales mistakes.
Mark got a new message from Rick, his sales manager.
“Mark, we need to talk. Come to my office.”
Mark's heart sank.
He knew he was already on thin ice and thought this was the final straw.
He slowly made his way to Rick’s office anticipating the worst.
“Have a seat” Rick pointed to the chair in his office
“Do you know why I called you in here?”
“I guess it’s because of my performance?”
“Correct. Even with the Performance Improvement Plan we put into place, your numbers are still very low.”
“Does that mean I’m fired?” asked Mark as he broke eye contact & looked at the floor
“You’re about to be.. Unless you can convince me something will change over the next month”
Mark's mind began to race.
“What can I do differently that I haven’t tried already? I’ve read all the books and taken all the company training.” Mark thought to himself
Then Mark remembered a former coworker, Chad.
“I haven’t spoken to Chad in years but from what I remember that guy was great at Sales.” thought Mark
“Ok. I’ve got an idea.” said Mark
“Go ahead.” said Rick
“I’ve got this friend, Chad. We used to work together. He was always a top sales performer. I never thought to ask him for help but I’ll do whatever it takes to keep this job.”
“Ok. You have 30 days.” said Rick
Mark left the office and immediately tried to contact Chad.
It’s been years since they last spoke.
Mark was scrambling through his contact list and there it was:
Mark dialed him.
“Hello?” a deep unwavering voice answered the phone
“Uhh, Chad?” asked Mark
“Yeah, whose this?”
“It’s Mark Mediocre!”
“No idea who that is” said Chad
“Uhh we used to work together over at the Software company!”
“Oh right. What’s going on man?”
“I need your help. I’m about to be fired for poor performance and I don’t know what else to do!”
“I see. Ok, bring a recording of your last sales call and meet me at my office tomorrow morning.” said Chad
“On a Saturday?!” cried Mark
“Uhh, I mean sure!” exclaimed Mark
On that Saturday morning Mark made his way to Chads office
“Long time no see” said Chad welcoming Mark with a warm smile
“This is us. Have a seat.” as Chad pointed to the conference room
“I brought the sales call like you asked” said Mark
“Good. But before we start, Mark, I’ve got a question.”
“Do you know why people buy?”
Mark wasn’t sure how to answer that question.
“Uhh people buy because they want or need something?”
“Right. But what actually DRIVES the sale? Do you know?” asked Chad
“I’m not sure actually” said Mark
“Emotion drives the Sale. We’ll dive deeper into that but for now I want you to keep that in mind. Alright, let's fire up your call.” said Chad
After a few minutes into the call, the prospect drops a nuke on Mark:
Prospect: What do you know about digital marketing? I’ve been on the internet longer than you’ve been alive!
Mark: Well, we’ve been in business for over 20 years and work with some of the largest companies in the world. We’re really good at what we do!
*CHAD PAUSES THE CALL*
“Do you think that was a good response?” asked Chad
“Yeah! the guy was challenging me and I put him in his place by talking about how great we were” said Mark proudly
Chad shook his head, got up, and started writing on the whiteboard:
Mistake #1: Responding to the Content instead of the Framing of a message
“In all communication there is the Content of the message (what is being said) and then there is the Framing of the message (what is being implied)
The prospect was EXPLICITLY telling you he doesn’t Trust that you know your stuff BUT he was IMPLYING (Framing) that HE is the adult here and that you are the child.
This is an example of a Power frame. It’s the equivalent of him saying ‘Yeah I’ve seen it all, go home kid’ even though he didn’t explicitly say it. Get it?”
“Yes” said Mark as he began taking notes
“Now the way you answered was also Defensive. You started DEFENDING & JUSTIFYING why your company was so good, which by the way, no one will believe anyway.
You never addressed the Frame which has now given him the upper hand. The Framing of a message carries a lot more weight than the Content (what is being said).” continued Chad
“You mentioned Frame a few times. What exactly is that?” asked Mark
“Frames are perspectives. It is the lens or filter in which we view or perceive things. In communication, it is the unspoken context that dictates a conversation. And your job in Sales is to control the Frame.”
“Huh.. So what could I have said instead?” asked Mark
“In order to address the Frame, you could have said something like this:
‘That means you’ve been on the internet for 20 years John, and in all that time your business is still stuck in the 2000’s which is why your competitors are eating your lunch’”
Mark burst out laughing.
“No way I can speak like that to a prospect” said Mark
“Because you just can’t!” exclaimed Mark
“You think you can’t because you are operating on a set of beliefs that are outdated and were taught to you by unsuccessful losers. These unproductive beliefs then manifested themselves into the weak behaviors we see today. However, the good thing is that beliefs can be changed.” Chad smiled
“How?” asked Mark
“Beliefs follow Behaviors. Meaning that even if a new behavior goes against your current beliefs, your beliefs will eventually upgrade so you can be congruent with your new behaviors. The key is in being consistent with the new behaviors so they become habits.”
“It just feels so uncomfortable to say something like that to a prospect” cried Mark
“The only reason you won’t say what I just said to prospects is because you are Needy.”
Chad then began writing on the whiteboard:
Mistake #2: Neediness
“Most salespeople are Needy.
They are scared to do what is necessary to close deals.
For example, they are scared to:
Control the sales process
Challenge the prospect
Set clear boundaries
Raise the stakes
and Walk away
This fear, and make no mistake, this is a fear, comes from a deep desire to be liked and to seek validation.
You need the world to tell you you’re good in order for you to believe you’re good.
Don’t get me wrong, Mark.
We all want to be liked and loved, but the problem is when your NEED for this comes at the expense of your goals and objectives.”
“At some point in your Life you believed that YOU were not enough, which then manifested itself into adopting weak behaviors like letting people control you and push you around. These weak behaviors formed into Habits over time. At this point it is quite literally natural for you to be Needy and weak.
These behaviors influence how you act when you’re selling.
This is why we need to be extremely careful about what behaviors we choose to let become Habits.”
Mark sat there listening quietly.
“So, if we know that most salespeople are Needy, is it any surprise that most of them lose the sale before even speaking to Prospects?”
Mark looked up and was confused.
“What do you mean?”
“Neediness is the cause of many self-defeating mindsets & beliefs. One being the belief that the prospect is the King.
But that’s wrong.
Think about it, what does a prospect actually have to offer? Just their money!”
Chad smiled and continued.
“But what if we don’t NEED their money because we’ve got enough of it? Then WE become the ones with the upper hand here. We become Free!”
“How so?” asked Mark
“Because (good) Prospects also have a Pain they’re looking to resolve and need us to help them MORE than we need their Money. Money is a commodity. It needs a vehicle in order to be productive.
Prospects NEED us, not the other way around!
Prospects are the ones in Pain, and we are the ones that have the solution.”
“You keep mentioning Pain. Do you mean a ‘Problem’?” asked Mark
“Fast forward to the point in the call where the Prospect tells you about their challenges” said Chad
Prospect: We struggle with finding new customers
Mark: I see. And if we could help you increase revenue by minimum 30% and save you hours a day would that be valuable to you?
Prospect: Well yeah. But we’re not sure you’re the right fit for us yet
“There! Pause the call” said Chad
“You started selling too early, Mark”
“What do you mean too early?”
Mistake #3: Not selling to Pain
“You see, Prospects generally have 2 types of challenges. Problems & Pain.”
“They’re not the same?” asked Mark
“No. The prospects problems are the unemotional & intellectual representation of how they view their challenges. Examples include ‘we struggle with finding new customers’ and ‘we need help with managing our workflows’
These are unemotional statements.
There’s no Pain there.
These are merely symptoms of Pain, but not Pain itself.”
“Pain, on the other hand, is the emotional turmoil associated with the problems the prospect is facing. Examples include ‘I am starting to hate my job’ and ‘I’m extremely stressed out’
Pain is what you get when you dig deeper than the Problems. Think of it as one level below the surface level challenges.
ALL sales are Emotional.
And Pain is a powerful emotion where REAL buying decisions are made, Mark.”
“Yeah I can see the difference now.” said Mark
“Now what usually happens in sales calls? The prospect mentions a Problem and the salesperson springs into action to start selling their solution. But it’s too early. Then the prospect inevitably puts a wall up.
The salesperson has to continue digging and probing to get to the Pain and what might be causing this Pain and ONLY then start talking about Solutions.”
“I made the same mistake on this call” said Mark embarrassingly
“We’ve all made this mistake, Mark. But the important thing is to stop doing it.”
“So when do we start selling?” asked Mark
“You start selling when the prospect meets ALL these criteria:
There is a clear Emotional Pain and you (and the prospect) know HOW MUCH it is costing them. We call this Quantifiable Pain and there can be many of them happening simultaneously in the business.
They WANT to and are MOTIVATED to resolve their Pain. No point in selling to someone who doesn’t WANT to fix their problems!
They can AFFORD to resolve their Pain. We’re not running a soup kitchen here. They must have money or we leave. Simple!
If the prospect is missing any one of these key criteria then they are not qualified.
They are a waste of time.
Mark, I don’t care how promising the deal looks. If the prospect doesn’t meet any of this criteria, you do NOT waste time selling to them. In fact, you do NOT waste a single second more with them. Do you understand?”
“Jeez, that sounds harsh, Chad.”
Chad gave Mark a serious look.
“Is it worse than spending your precious time and energy with prospects who will never buy?”
“Is it worse than missing quota and struggling financially?”
“Is it worse than feeling ‘small’ for the rest of your Life?”
“No, it’s not” said Mark
“Good. Now let’s talk about why people buy” said Chad
“Oh! Oh! People buy because of Emotion” exclaimed Mark
“So you HAVE been paying attention. But there’s more to it.”
Mistake #4: Not knowing why people buy
“Mark, your job is to get the prospect feeling emotional about the problems your solution fixes.”
“It doesn’t matter whether someone is buying a teeth whitening solution or a million dollar software, the sale is made emotionally and then rationalized with logic.
Think of it like this:
Prospect feels emotion -> Seeks a Change -> Makes the Change = Sale is completed
All sales are effectively just Change.
The prospect wants to go from Point A -> Point B
And what fuels that Change?” asked Chad
“Emotion!” cried Mark
Chad gave Mark a high five and continued.
“The most common emotions that drive the buying process ranked from least profitable to most profitable are:
Curiosity (Intrigue, Interest, etc)
Pleasure (Happiness, Joy, Fulfillment, etc)
Pain (Fear, Suffering, etc)
And while it may be unemotional for you to sell your solution, it is ALWAYS emotional for the Prospect to buy it.”
Mark was scrambling to write everything down.
“Now Mark, I want you to shift your thinking from selling your service to selling an outcome (and all the emotions associated with that outcome)
The prospect isn’t buying a teeth whitening solution, they are buying a beautiful smile and all the emotions associated with that desired outcome.
The fear of having an ugly smile, the desire to be loved, and to feel confident are all real emotions that the prospect experiences consciously and/or subconsciously.
These emotions greatly influence which product they will buy.
This applies to every product/service sold in the world.”
Mark looked up at Chad.
“Wow. So I guess you can say I’m not selling digital marketing services, I’m selling Success.”
“You’re on the right track, Mark. I would even say you are selling Freedom. Since you help businesses grow, you are enabling your clients to live their dreams.”
“That sounds so much better!” cried Mark
“However, in order to really crystalize what their dreams are, you’ll have to dig deep in your conversations and identify your prospects' unique & specific WHY.
WHY are they REALLY working with you?
Most salespeople come to the conclusion that since they sell, for example, digital marketing services, that prospects work with them because they need digital marketing services.
But that’s all surface level stuff.
Each prospect has a unique reason as to WHY THEY SPECIFICALLY chose to work with you and you need to find that out.
Most salespeople have no idea why a Prospect really buys from them. They say it’s because ‘we can help them grow their business’ but that’s BS.
That’s not the real reason.
Our job is to find those real reasons so we can turn the sale emotional.”
“So how do I do that?” asked Mark
“By speaking their language. Mark, go to the part of the call where you start talking about your solution”
Mistake #5: Speaking the wrong Language
“Yes John, we are an end to end full service digital marketing agency. And we help our clients grow their business” said Mark
“Hmm and how much does it cost to work with you guys?” asked the Prospect
“See? He was interested” Mark said to Chad
“Pause the call, Mark”
“Mark, when your prospects are b*tching about their problems do you think they are saying ‘Man we really need an end to end full service digital marketing agency’?”
“Uhh, no..” said Mark
“Right. Wouldn’t they be more likely to say something like ‘Why are the campaigns not converting?’ or ‘Why is revenue down?’”
“Yeah that’s more realistic” said Mark
“That’s because this is the language prospects use in their day to day lives. When you speak the same language as them it shows you understand them on a deep level.
This understanding builds Trust.
Most salespeople talk endlessly about the features & benefits of their solution, which means absolutely nothing to the prospect.
In fact, it gets their guard up immediately because they feel they are being sold to. This is why the prospect asked you about the price right after you told him what you do. You sounded like an advertisement without realizing it. That might work in marketing but not in sales. In sales, it’s Human to Human conversations.”
“So what should I have done instead?” asked Mark
“Shift your thinking from telling prospects what it is you do to what it is you fix. And when you talk about the problems you fix, use their language, not your internal company language.
Bad: ‘We’re a full service marketing agency that helps companies like yours grow your business’
Good: ‘These are some of the things we address. For example, you may be struggling to find new customers or you don’t have the resources to create content or maybe you feel that your cost per acquisition is too high. We solve these problems daily.’
Use their language and speak it back to them. They will reward you with their hard earned money.”
“Now the next thing you need to do is find out what’s really important to the prospect.
You do this by playing stupid and asking good questions.
WHY is it important for them to find new customers?
WHY is it important for them to get to their stated goal amount of say $50k/mo MRR?
WHAT happens if they DON’T reach their target?
These are simple but effective questions.
Mark, you must ask them the hard questions so you can cut through the noise and get to the Human element of the Sale.
Most prospects will give some boilerplate answer like ‘We want to double our headcount’
The Human Element is more like ‘We want to grow the business so we can eventually sell it and retire early. Retiring early means being able to financially support our loved ones and having the FREEDOM to use our time as we wish.’
“Which do you think is more of a powerful reason for buying?”
Mark immediately understood the difference between the two.
One answer was cold, detached, and analytical.
The other answer was Emotional and HUMAN.
“So if I get these answers does that guarantee I’ll close the deal?!” asked Mark
“No. In fact, most prospects will not be a good fit for what you do. And that is a good thing.”
“What do you mean?”
Mistake #6: Not Disqualifying
“Mark, your company could not work with unlimited amounts of clients, even if you wanted to, right?”
“So knowing that, wouldn’t it make more sense to be selective with who you choose to work with since resources are limited? Wouldn’t it be wiser to only work with the best clients?” asked Chad
“Well obviously but how can I choose?”
“Remember what I said earlier about being Needy?” Chad asked
“Your neediness is getting in the way of you Disqualifying the prospects who obviously don’t deserve your attention. Why do you feel like you NEED to spend time with them?”
“Because I don’t really have other opportunities so each one has to count”
“And there lies your problem! You don’t have many opportunities so you’re forced to entertain ALL the prospects who come to you, even the unqualified ones.”
“Yeah we don’t do much prospecting.” said Mark
“That means you have a weak pipeline. That needs to change ASAP.
If you want to get rid of Neediness and be able to Disqualify prospects with a big smile on your face, you must have a FAT pipeline FILLED with opportunities. This will give you an Abundance Mindset and you will radiate the right attitude with prospects. You won’t care if they buy or not because you’ll have another one to replace them.”
“One hour a day of prospecting will keep you cool and confident. So, I want you to be speaking to a handful of new prospects daily. A simple task, but not easy.”
“It can change your Life if you do it consistently.” said Chad
“Ok fine. I’ll do it. But what about Disqualifying prospects? Where does that come in?”
“Mark, most salespeople are trained to ask prospects softball questions and are terrified of even entertaining the thought that they would be the ones to tell the prospect ‘NO!’
All the training you’ve been taught is designed to get the prospect to a Yes. But all that does is make the prospect dig their heels in.
It’s counterproductive and actually makes your job (and Life) harder.
Selling isn’t about convincing people to work with you, it is about having the Prospect convince you why you should let them work with you. THAT is how it is done. People want what they think they can’t have. Never forget that.
And when you get the prospect in this state of mind, they will sell themselves.”
Mark looked uneasy.
“This goes against everything I’ve been taught. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this.”
“You will if you want to succeed.”
“So how do I actually Disqualify prospects?” asked Mark
“First you must internalize the idea that there are always more reasons for someone NOT to work with you then there are TO work with you.
Next, I want you to write down all the alternatives to working with you. Memorize this list.
Then instead of trying to convince the Prospect why you’re the best option, you do the opposite. You explore all the viable alternatives to working with you and let the prospect tell YOU why the alternatives WON’T work.
By doing this they will eliminate the alternatives themselves which will leave you as the most viable option. The prospect must come to the conclusion on their own instead of you telling them why the alternatives won’t work.
The best stories are the ones we tell ourselves.”
“And what if they decide to go with an alternative instead of us?” asked Mark
“Then that’s fine! You likely weren’t going to close them anyway and probably saved yourself a lot of pain. Sales isn’t just about closing deals, it’s also about getting Fast No’s so you can preserve your time, energy, and sanity.
You have to ACTIVELY filter the time wasters from the quota makers.
A closed deal and a Fast No are both considered good outcomes in the Sales game.”
Mark still looked uneasy.
“If you want unconventional results you will have to behave unconventionally. Get used to always having one foot out the door with prospects. That is how you separate yourself from the competition and become a top performer.”
“What do you mean?” asked Mark
“Fast forward to the point in the call where the prospect starts giving you resistance” said Chad
Prospect: Why would we pay so much money to work with an agency when we can just hire a consultant instead?
Mark: That’s a valid point. But a consultant doesn’t have the same level of resources as we do. Plus since we’re a full service agency, you actually end up saving money with us in the long run.
“Pause the call” said Chad
Mark paused the call.
“That was a terrible response, Mark.”
Mark was shocked.
“Why was it terrible?”
“Where do I start? First off, when you say ‘thats a valid point’, this is a micro agreement. Micro agreements are subtle statements of supplication and validation. You are effectively making sure the prospect keeps the upper hand on you.
And the more they feel they have the upper hand, the less receptive they will be to your influence and persuasion. You’re giving them free points for no reason.”
“Points?” asked Mark
“Yes. Sales is just a game. In every sales call you either accrue or lose Status points against the prospect.
You accrue Status points by controlling the Frame and demonstrating Competence.
And you lose Status points by making all the mistakes you’ve made today.
These points add up by the end of the interaction and determine with very high accuracy whether you will win or lose the deal.”
“Now back to the call, another problem with that micro agreement is you are neutralizing tension.”
Mark looked confused.
“Why would I want any tension on the call?”
“When tension is low, the prospect's attention is low too. A healthy amount of tension is necessary in a call to keep the attention levels high. When attention levels are high, your prospect is more receptive to you.
Agreements neutralize tension.
Next, you’re chasing again. You are defending and justifying your position which makes you look weak.
Then you try to add value by focusing on saving money. This guy isn’t talking to you because he wants to save money! He wants to grow his business and live his dreams.
And finally, you failed to pull back and go for the No. He is much more likely to chase you when you do that. Instead you did what every other amateur does. You tried to get them to a Yes.
Going for Yes’s results in more No’s
And Going for No’s results in more Yes’s”
Mark was shocked.
“Jeez. You got all that from my response?”
“Yes. Top sales performance is all about nailing the subtleties and nuances of communication.”
“So what could I have said instead?” asked Mark
“Many options. Here are a couple:
Prospect: Why would we pay so much money to work with an agency when we can just hire a consultant instead?
1) Hmm.. it seems you are price conscious so maybe going with a consultant is the right choice for you. In my experience, consultants don’t always work out but maybe your situation will be an exception. *Reframe their decision as a risky one by introducing skepticism + pullback*
2) It feels like you’ve already made up your mind, John. Out of curiosity though, why aren’t you working with a consultant yet? *Pullback + asking a question to probe further so you can close the gap between agency and consultant*
3) Are you saying you think one consultant will do a better job than a team of 5 specialists? *Challenge them directly + make them clarify their stance*
“So many options to choose from. How do I know which one to choose in the moment?” asked Mark
“The most important thing is to remember the frameworks. Then after that it’s just practicing so you gain experience and the ability to articulate what you feel in your gut. When you’ve done this enough times the answers will flow out of you naturally.”
“Surely there must be some formula I can use?” replied Mark
“There’s no formula that will work every time. The goal is to know where you want to go with a prospect (big picture) and then use the best tools at your disposal to get the job done. Right now we are adding tools to your toolbox.
In the heat of the moment, you will use whatever tool you think is best for the specific situation. And then based on real world results, you will tailor and adjust accordingly. There’s no shortcuts here. You have to go out there and ‘get your hands dirty’.”
“Got it” said Mark
Chad looked at his watch.
“Alright Mark, that’s enough for today. I want you to apply these 6 lessons over the course of the next 30 days and report back your results.”
“Aww man that’s it? Time really flies!” exclaimed Mark
“Mark, these aren’t just some generic sales tips. If you apply these 6 lessons you will transform your Sales performance, and maybe even your Life.”
Mark thanked Chad and headed home.
*30 days later*
Prospect: It’s a bit expensive
Mark: Yeah I get it. Like I said, we’re not for everyone. John, maybe you guys should start with hiring a freelancer first. No guarantees there but at least you’ll save money.
Prospect: No, we don't want to save money. We want to grow.
Mark: So what do you want to do?
Prospect: Well you said the next steps would be to begin the engagement. So we’ll do that
Mark: Are you sure? Last thing I want is for you to feel any pressure to do this
Prospect: No, we’re good. Let’s do it
Mark: Cool. I’ll send the agreement over within the next few hours. I’m in back to back meetings here.
Prospect: No problem, Mark. Thanks!
Mark: Alright talk soon. *click*
A new message from Rick came through.
“Mark, please come to my office.”
Mark shrugged and made his way over to Rick's office.
“You wanted to see me?”
“You’re on fire Mark. That’s the 7th deal this month!”
“Gotta slow down, my man. We can’t service all these clients!” said Rick jokingly
“Why don’t we go out for dinner to celebrate?”
“Sure” said Mark
As they were seated at the restaurant.
Rick leaned back and smiled.
“Mark, you’re a genius. Whatever you did is clearly working. I want you to start training the team.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’ve been listening to your calls and you sound radically different. Not even our top guys have the stones to say the things you’re saying. But it’s obviously working. You outperformed everyone by a large margin. I want you to replicate this across the entire team.”
Then Mark looked up and noticed a figure from across the restaurant.
It was Chad.
Chad looked up and noticed Mark.
Chad raised his glass of wine and smiled.
I hope you guys enjoyed this short story! If you want to learn more about the tips I talk about in this post you can check out my course here.
If you’re interested in joining our community of turbo autists we suggest you do so quickly to avoid a bug filled future. BowTiedSalesGuy is just one of many intelligent members adding value for free and on his paid course.
Disclaimer: None of this is to be deemed legal or financial advice of any kind. These are *opinions* written by an anonymous group of collective individuals.