Skip to main content
How to Develop Salespeople

Breakthrough Selling: Part 1

Speaker 1: So the problem with most salespeople is that they’re always selling. And let’s face it, everybody hates being sold to. This is a big turnoff for most customers because they feel like the salesperson is trying to push them to do something that they want them to do versus helping me as the customer figure out what’s best for me. Most industries have become much more challenging and complex. And this simple approach to selling is soon going to outlive its usefulness, if it hasn’t already.

Pharma, for example, everything has become more competitive and crowded and complex from the number of people you have to talk to a customer to get a sale, from the patients, the payers, the protocols, and the pathways. In this environment, challenging and changing a customer’s mindset and prescribing behaviors is difficult for the most skilled and experienced sales rep. For example, the traditional pharma selling approach, where you ask a few softball questions to deliver the marketing message and ask for the business. That’s not going to work anymore. Things have become too complex. And even if they haven’t, there are a lot of me too products out there that going to make the same claims as you do. So now is the time when salespeople need to stop being robots and start having real conversations so they can start turning their customers on versus turning them off, which require three big changes.

Number one, a change in mindset from trying to convince your customers to buy your products, to helping them make the best decisions, and then two big changes in behavior. So the first big thing that sales reps need to do a lot more of is listening. And let’s face it, listening is what most of us do while we wait to talk. We see their mouth moving, we wait for them to stop so we can say what we had planned to say the whole time. Listening needs to become a very different thing, where we ask a lot more questions of our customers about what are they trying to accomplish? What are their preferences? What do they care about? What do they worry about? And we have that kind of understanding. Then we can make the next big shift is being a lot more bold.

Most salespeople have a lot of great instincts. The things that they’re thinking and feeling are actually very good. If they could find a way to say those things and say them well, the conversation is going to be much better, but they often hold these things back because they’re worried it’s going to upset the doctor and therefore they’re going to lose access and their ability to sell. But when a customer gets that you’re really there to serve them, you’re not trying to just convince them to buy your product, but you’re there to help them make the very best decisions and then you ask questions where you’re showing that you really care about what they care about. Then when you more honestly express yourself, the things you’re thinking and feeling, particularly when you’re disagreeing with how they’re thinking, they’re going to be much more open to it. And they’re going to get much more value from you. And instead of seeing you as a salesperson, they’re going to see you as an expert and a trusted advisor that they can count on to come back to time and time again, to help them figure out what they should do.

So let me give you a very typical example from pharma. They had a sales rep who was struggling with a particular high volume customer. She could see that over a six month period, she was losing share with that customer and the customer was moving patients off of her product to a competitor’s product. And obviously the thing that she needs to talk about is why this is happening. But if you looked at the transcriptions of the conversations she had, she never asked the question. So what did she do instead? She took her tried and true marketing message and just found different ways to deliver it in each conversation. In fact, if the third conversation the doctor said, I think you said this to me before. So her very attempt to not upset the doctor ensured she ended up upsetting the doctor. And then we worked together and she realized that she was having problems with this doctor because of her approach.

And then she exhibited the courage to ask that really important question. Why have you, despite your great experience with our product over the last couple of years, suddenly you’re moving patients off of our product to our competitors product? She asked the question, she learned the doctor had some misconceptions about the new data that had come out about her product. She cleared up the misconceptions, and then two weeks after the new her had the new conversation with this customer, she got three scripts which earned the company $250,000. So six months of no result, a breakthrough at a workshop and within two weeks, $250,000. And just as strong of a relationship with that customer than ever.

In a nutshell, salespeople need to stop selling and start having real conversations with their customers. If you make this shift and you learn how to do it well, I could promise three things. Number one, your relationship with your customers will be transformed. They will see you as a trusted advisor and an expert. Number two, this will separate you from the pack of all the other salespeople, because you’ll be the one that they trust. And number three, this will ultimately lead to, paradoxically lead to more sales, because they’ll be much more open to thinking about what you have to offer and reasoning with you. And if you do have excellent products and services, this trusted advisor relationship and that combination of excellent products and services is truly unbeatable. Thanks for listening. And I’ll see you next time.

Leave a Reply