11 Jul Sales Behaviors: The Trivial Many vs. the Vital Few
Article by Marcel Brunel of The Brunel Group
We’ve all heard of the 80-20 Rule, or Pareto Principle, which applies to many things in business and in life: 20% of your clients make up 80% of your revenue. You walk on 20% of your carpet 80% of the time. Eighty percent of traffic jams happen on 20% of roads. You wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. Twenty percent of the company creates 80% of total revenue – in any industry. There is conventional thinking and there is 80/20 thinking.
Productivity is input divided by output. 80/20 thinking applies to your behaviors in sales. Twenty percent of your behaviors (the vital few) give you 80% of your results. Yet how many of us spend 80% of our time on the behaviors and activities (the trivial many) that waste time and don’t contribute to our goals?
So what are those vital few? Here are what I consider the five “gold standard” sales behaviors:
- Being the best at diagnosing and qualifying. Don’t talk about solutions until you understand the client’s goals, challenges and needs. Ask the client: What are you trying to achieve? What do you see as some of the challenges in getting there? Ask about timing, budget, the decision process and other options they’re considering. If we could be more unique in our questions on the front end we may not have to be so unique in our pricing on the back end.
- Being able to recommend an approach, a direction for what to do next. Make the call…move the ball. Link your selling process to the client’s buying process. Do your best work, and at the end of every sales call recommend an approach for what to do next or for what you see to be the solution.
- Being able to prescribe a client-specific solution. As I always say, diagnose first, then prescribe. This is where you take what you learned in your diagnose/qualifying process (the client’s goals, challenges and needs) and link them directly to your recommended solution. For example:
- You shared with me that you have these goals…here is how this solution can help
- You stated that you have these challenges…here is how this solution can help
- You said you have these needs…here is how this solution can help
- Create a smart, right recommendation that allows you to start small, learn fast and scale rapidly. Clients like options. Give them options, making sure that each choice is practical and doable, and aligns with both your capability and capacity.
- Managing client resistance. If you’ve asked skillful and purposeful questions, clarified and confirmed what you heard in response, you should be fairly able to proactively manage any client misperceptions, skepticisms, or major concerns.
- Negotiating and gaining client commitment. This is not just about the contract. A lot of negotiation happens early in the sales cycle when – if you ask the right questions – the negotiating process is set for a more collaborative outcome as you move through to the point of contract agreement.
Unfortunately, we don’t have standards of performance around diagnosing, recommending, prescribing, etc., so it’s up to sales leaders to be very clear about expectations for their people. Ignorance of standards of performance lies behind a great deal of incorrect self-assessment of competence (Dunning–Kruger effect).
The vital few behaviors for sales leaders are to help their sales professionals: 1) prepare for the call; 2) debrief the call; and 3) improve their behaviors by providing positive feedback through coaching. Good feedback and bad feedback should be given in the same way. The only way someone receives feedback in a positive way is if it is given in a positive way. There is a lot of “doing” in sales. What I am asking from sales leaders is to put some standards around the vital few 20% “doing” activities for your sales team, which is going to give you 80% of your happiness/results/revenue, whatever the goal is.
Clear eyes. Full heart. Can’t lose.