The best salespeople keep it simple, stupid

The best salespeople keep it simple, stupid

The best salespeople run presentations, interact with prospects, and close sales with the K.I.S.S. strategy. If you’re not familiar, it stands for Keep ISimple Stupid. Keeping it simple in sales is about finding the easiest, and most repeatable path to close sales.

Keep it simple, stupid might sound like buzzphrase, but it has an interesting origin story.

An aircraft engineer for Lockheed Martin named Kelly Johnson reportedly coined K.I.S.S. Johnson is famous for heading up a military aircraft development project for the US Government called Skunk Works.

Skunk Works was an aviation project that produced some of the most famous fighter planes in the world; including the U2 Bomber, F-22, and F-35.

Johnson wanted his team to use K.I.S.S. as a main strategy of how they would build aircrafts.

He wanted to make sure that a mechanic in the field would be able to repair any of their planes with standard tools and an average mechanical skill set.

Johnson believed their aircrafts should be able to be repaired in the field when they got shot down. If the aircrafts were difficult to repair, most pilots would be stranded in enemy territory.

Let’s tie this back to closing sales: if your product is difficult to explain, it will be difficult to understand. If customers don’t understand the product, they probably won’t buy the product.

New salespeople want to tell the customer about every bell and whistle that comes with their solution. Most salespeople know that explaining everything isn’t the answer.

There is genius in simplicity. The best salespeople make sure their prospects are engaged by pitching their solution the simplest way possible.

I was once told:

If you give the customer too much to think about, they will ask for “some time to think about it”.

Sales slumps last longer when you change your approach

Every salesperson gets into a slump at some point.

Slumps happen because prospects are emotional, and they don’t always make rational decisions. Even if we do a perfect job, it doesn’t guarantee a sale. Most sales slumps are caused by an unlucky run of prospects.

Closing sales can be similar to casino games like blackjack if you think about it..

The casino has a 0.5% edge for blackjack if players use a perfect strategy. That means that they average half of a cent of profit for every dollar that’s gambled on blackjack.

Those odds don’t seem great, but they are good enough that the casino always wins in the long run.

An edge that small allows for the possibility that the casino could have losing days on blackjack. They win over time because they take the exact same approach and never change the game.

Salespeople are consistent in the long run and have built in odds based on our skill level, but we don’t get to see them. If you are perfect on 100 sales calls, you will likely close 15-40 deals.

If you stay consistent and confident, you should be able to achieve those results over the long term.

You’re going to have runs of bad luck, however. You may go 7-10 meetings in a row without closing, and statistically that should happen.

If you were to change the game (your approach), you would probably change your underlying odds. You might start feature dumping, lose confidence, and change the things that you do well.

If you have a script that works, stick with it. Don’t lose confidence when you have a bad run. Statistically, you should have bad runs.

Pitch your prospect on (1) good idea

Every sale should be a solution sale. If a customer doesn’t have a problem they probably won’t buy anything. Consumers buy ‘nice to have’ items, but business rarely do.

It’s important to make sure that you know what issue your prospect needs to solve. Uncover their problem, and figure out one simple way to fix it.

Lots of salespeople confuse prospects by pitching them multiple ideas. “You could do this, or you could try option (b), or you could use our product this third way..”.

That type of pitch is always confusing, and it doesn’t position you as an expert.

The Challenger Sale is one of the more influential sales books because it’s back by research. The authors discovered and concluded that the best salespeople were what they call ‘challengers’

The challenger sales rep profile is an educator. They are experts that teach clients something about their business they didn’t know. Purchasers today are looking for recommendations and advice to help them make decisions. They expect you to share industry insights throughout your demonstrations.

It’s important to be able to recommend the best solution to the customer if you want to be thought of as an expert. You have to be able to tell them the best way a company like them can benefit from your product.

Use your knowledge from other customers to help seal a deal. Prospects appreciate success stories from your current customers. It helps them get over the perceived risk of adopting your solution.

Only explain the necessary features

Feature dumping is one of the worst things salespeople can do. Your prospect doesn’t need to know every single thing your product does. Verbal diarrhea complicates the decision making process.

Put yourself in the shoes of the purchaser: you want to know how a solution can help you hit a business objective such as increasing revenue.

Their main decision will come down to that one objective. If they believe that your solution will increase revenue, they will buy. You have a roadmap, now stick to it.

If they don’t think you can affect their revenue, they won’t purchase.

Looking through the decision making process from the buyer’s perspective can help you find the best course of action to close a sale. This added perspective will give you a clearer vision of what your pitch needs to look like.

The customer might like bells and whistles, but they won’t make their decision based off of them. Create tonnes of value by pitching the features that will impact the customers main business objectives.

Businesses don’t buy “nice-to-have’s”, they buy “needs”.

Ask yourself what product features speak to needs, and which speak to wants. Stop talking about the wants as much, and focus you time on the needs.

Get your point across in as few words as possible

A concise sentence is more powerful than a page of text if it gets the same point across. Going into too much detail confuses customers.

Don’t skip important features, but don’t share everything. Most people don’t want to know how the sausage is made, they just want to eat it!

Be more concise and results will follow.

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