7 Obstacles That Hold Sales Professionals Back and What You Can Do to Overcome Them

To be successful in sales you must overcome 7 obstacles. Almost every sales professional runs into these obstacles at some point in their career. For many these obstacles continue to reoccur. These obstacles are not always addressed in sales training, which is why we advocate an ongoing sales coaching relationship. As you read, assess your sales skills and your effectiveness at overcoming these challenges. By conquering them you will be able to take your sales performance to a whole new level.

Obstacle #1: Fear of the “No”. Much has been written about the fear of rejection but it still remains an issue for many sales people. I find that it is helpful to give my prospects a “no-option” right up front! My product/service is not for everyone. I don’t want anyone to feel manipulated or disrespectfully coerced. Neither do I want any “buyers-remorse.” When people say “yes” to me I want them to truly want what I am offering. I want it to be a “win-win” situation. Otherwise there is no hope for a long-term relationship.

As a sales professional you need to truly believe in your product or service. You need to be passionate and enthusiastic about what you are offering. You need to communicate the unique benefits of buying from you. But in the end, if the prospect says “no” it does not diminish the value of your product/service, and it is not a personal rejection of you. You must differentiate that within yourself in order to succeed.

Obstacle #2: Not Being Prepared. It’s very important that you prepare before making the sales contact. I know that there are times when selling opportunities present themselves serendipitously, but most of the time you will have an opportunity to prepare before the contact.

For me, preparation involves going to the prospect’s website, blog, or social media sites before the contact. There I want to learn everything I can about the company and the individual that I will be meeting with. Prospects are typically very impressed if they see that you have done your homework. They feel valued and respected.

I also want to prepare my attitude. I want to go in with the right mindset, being customer-centered and customer-focused. I want to be optimistic and visualize this prospect becoming my customer. I want to anticipate as much as possible what will happen in this conversation. However, I always want to remain flexible and open to the unexpected.

It is very important to be prepared. I would encourage you to develop a system for personal preparation and use that system every time you make a contact.

Obstacle #3: Focusing on Yourself Rather Than Your Prospective Customer. I alluded to this in Obstacle #2. It is very important that you focus on the other person. Your attention and your energy must be directed to understanding them and serving them. This contact is not about me. It is about the prospective customer, about their wants and needs. We must be tuned in to them before and during the contact.

There is a Hebrew Proverb that says “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” I want to understand my prospect (if possible) better than he understands himself. I do not want to be preoccupied with my fear, my discomfort, or my ideas. I want to be totally present for my prospect in that moment of contact.

Obstacle #4: Failure to Listen During the Selling Conversation. The most important tools you have in the selling conversation are questions. The quality of your selling is directly related to the quality of your questions. You must go prepared with good questions and then be ready to ask more questions as they surface in the conversation.

Questions are essential to help you get to know your prospect and to understand what their needs are. I always encourage my clients to prepare good questions ahead of time so that they will be asking better questions than their competition.

However, it is not enough to just ask questions. You must also listen carefully to what they are saying. When appropriate, say back to them what you hear them saying. Listen beneath the words. What are they feeling in the moment of the conversation? How is my question impacting them? Listen and observe. Let them do most of the talking as you guide the conversation with powerful questions.

Obstacle #5: Not Keeping Your Promises. It amazes me how many people do not follow through and do what they say they will do. Successful sales professionals keep their word! They stand behind their promises no matter how difficult or inconvenient.

Prospects are asking themselves one primary question, “Can I trust you?” If you fail to keep your word in the initial meetings or the sales process, it is likely that the prospect will assess you as unreliable and/or dishonest. Bottomline: Keep your word!

Obstacle #6: Inability to Close the Sale. In my early days of selling this was a huge problem and I’ve discovered that it is for many other people as well. I could have a great conversation, ask some good questions, and uncover some clear needs that we could meet. But when the time came to close the sale something happened and I walked away empty-handed.

Always remember that people buy based on emotion, and they justify with logic. In other words, every buying decision is an emotional decision. A good selling conversation will guide you into the prospect’s points of pain and passion. If you never uncover pain or passion you will probably never close the sale.

The 3 keys to a successful close are emotions, buying signals, and questions. Through your conversation look for the moments of emotion. Don’t be afraid to linger there. Also be watching for both verbal and visual buying signals. And then, when the time seems right, ask the closing question.

There is an art to this but with practice and evaluation you will be able to improve your ability to close the sale. You might consider engaging a coach to help you with your questions and scripts, as well as to help you increase in your self-awareness and other-awareness.

Obstacle #7: Failure to Continuously Improve. Leaders are learners, and successful sales professionals are always learning and improving their skills and their mindset. Both require attention and intentional development. No doubt you are reading this article because you want to improve. Let me encourage you to continuously read, observe, engage mentors, attend seminars, talk to colleagues, and evaluate your selling experiences. Be an aggressive learner and you will become a top notch sales professional!

As you increasingly overcome these obstacles you will gain more confidence and improve your sales performance. I believe that you will fall in love with selling and begin to see it as “serving” rather than taking! You will gain greater financial success and enjoy the fruit of a growing network of people who appreciate you. And you will realize the enormous potential you have to succeed in sales.

To learn more about how we help sales professionals go to www.TheGrowthCoachHouston.com/increase-your-sales/.

D. Glenn Smith is CEO and Lead Coach at The Growth Coach Houston, a business coaching firm whose mission is to empower business owners and sales professionals to achieve exceptional performance in their businesses and to live extraordinary lives. Glenn has over 30 years of experience and has coached business and organizational leaders on 5 continents. He is a sought after motivational speaker who has spoken to groups of 20 to 2,000, including several national franchises. For more FREE resources go to http://www.TheGrowthCoachHouston.com.

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