What is Ockham’s Razor? It’s an idea created by William of Ockham that, when distilled to it’s most understandable version, is the equivalent of “KISS” as we know it: Keep it simple, stupid.
But, the modern sales world largely ignores Ockham’s Razor, and will be cut by it...
Modern Sales Stupidity (That Never Ends)
Looking back on every sales training program I've been through, whether it was new-hire training at a job, a private training class I signed up for on my own, or a book I've read, every last one of them over-complicates the selling process and essentially sets salespeople up to oversell themselves out of sales.
Let me start with some examples of what I'm talking about. At one position I held, I sat next to someone who was an excellent salesperson except for the fact that he had the nasty habit of always talking himself out of sales. He and I both operated much the same in that rather than cold call, we ran our own personal marketing programs to generate leads and simply took the calls that came in as a result. The problem is what he did with the calls. When someone called me, ready to buy, I immediately went into closing the deal and making arrangements to either come out with the paperwork or to fax it over. This guy, on the other hand, went into a full-length company story, a full-length explanation of the service, and a lot of other information that he absolutely should not tell a clearly qualified prospect unless they specifically ask for it. The end
result is that people who called ready to sign up for one of our more expensive services either changed their mind and dropped to the entry-level service or they lost interest and didn't buy anything at all.
Another example is something that I experienced just last week. I was searching the web for local companies that could provide a particular service I need for my company. I found the website of a company that appeared capable of serving my needs so I called and asked to speak to a salesperson. We spoke for ten minutes and it was clear that they had exactly what I was looking for, and at the right price. I asked to have contracts emailed to me in order that I could sign up and get started right away on setup.
Well, getting off the phone wasn't quite that easy. Here I was, already saying "Yes, I'm going to buy," and this sales rep launched into a full-blown company story about how they've been in business for over twenty years, how they have so many hundred clients worldwide, and on and on and on. If they weren't so appropriate for my needs I might have gotten annoyed and changed my mind, but lucky for this rep, the product sold itself. If that wasn't enough, the email arrived later that day. The requested proposal and contracts were attached, but the email itself was a good two pages of more company story nonsense, more useless drivel about all the big important clients they have, and more waste-of-time bragging about their capabilities. I was half-amazed that my spam filter didn't delete this one upon arrival.
The sad part about all this is that even though I still bought, I'm willing to bet that a lot of people don't. Nothing is more frustrating than picking up the phone saying, "Hi, here I am with a check in hand, ready to buy," and having some rep go into a story bragging about how great the company is and all that they can do. To a business owner, that comes off as pure arrogance. What's more, talking about all your big enterprise clients alienates most small business owners. They assume their needs will be placed second to those of the big dogs and that they'll be treated as just a number when calling for service. Here is a salesperson with a great service that fills a particular niche, and yet she's probably throwing money out the window by talking herself out of sales on a regular basis.
Going back to sales training I've experienced, I think most training is at the root of this massive problem. Every course I've taken has gone through the steps of a sale and they teach salespeople to go through all the steps. The problem is, what if all the steps don't take place? For example, "objection handling" is always taught as one of the steps of a sale. But what if the prospect doesn't have any objections? When I called that company last week, I'd already passed the "objection handling stage simply because the website did a thorough job of handling my objections. When I was working for that company I mentioned earlier, simply taking the calls that came into my line as a result of my personal marketing program, many of those prospects had no objections because my marketing program took care of them in advance. By assuming that each of these steps are going to take place, a lot of salespeople will cause something to happen when it really shouldn't have to begin with. If a prospect doesn't come up with any major objections, don't give them a reason to! It's like shooting yourself in the foot with a really big gun!
I've seen a lot of companies and managers that require their reps to fill out a "lead sheet" or something similar that documents each step of the sale. This assumes that each of the steps will happen when they may not. If you're required to maintain these types of records, skip anything that doesn't happen naturally. Don't induce a prospect to enter a selling phase that may not only be unnecessary, but may cause you to lose the sale entirely.
Use the KISS test when you're selling. Before every action you take with a prospect, ask yourself if you're keeping it simple or if you're throwing monkey wrenches in your machinery. Believe me, you'll save yourself a lot of wasted time, headaches, and lost sales by doing so. I did.
New York Times best-selling author Frank Rumbauskas is the author of the Never Cold Call Again® System and has won numerous accolades, such as Readers Choice for Business Book of the Year from 800-CEO-READ, and has been named one of Fast Company’s top 30 most influential people online. To learn more, and to download a free 37-page PDF preview of his Never Cold Call Again lead-generation system, visit NeverColdCall.com