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Why Most People Fail at The Sales Process? Part 1

Majority of sales people fail in making a sale. That is a fact !

It is important that we look at why the rate of failure is high among sales people and rate of success in sales is limited to only a very few people for any profession or industry.

Sales is a process and those who understand the science behind it and are capable of perfecting that process, achieve extraordinary results compared to those who merely look at sales as a mean to an end or frankly speaking as a way to manipulate others to influence their buying decision so they can make money at it.

The steps in any sales process are as follows:

1) Building Rapport

2) Discovery or Assessment

3) Presentation

4) Education

5) Closing

According to late Chat Holmes, the author of best selling book, “The Ultimate Sale Machine”, 65% of the sales process happens in those first two steps. 45% in step 1, "Building Rapport" and 20% in step 2, "Discovery or Assessment". Most sales people fail at the first two steps; hence they never get to close a sale and if they do, the chances that a customer repeats the business with them in the future, is very low. So let’s look at why there is so much weight put on the first two steps.

Building Rapport

Building a genuine relationship with a customer at onset, is a significant part of building trust with our customers. Rapport begins from the time that a customer comes in contact with us. A non physical contact typically precedes a physical contact where we actually meet our customers in person for the first time. A non physical contact may be in a form of an advertisement or a website that a customer comes in contact with for the first time. No matter which way they come in contact with us, building a positive image about us in their minds must be our top priority. It is during this step that we build value about our offerings and by focusing our attention on building a long-term relationship with them than merely a one-time sale event, that our customers begin trusting our intentions. This is a foundation for any successful sales. For example, it is typical in real estate business that many agents complain of lack or low sales volume. However, from my own personal experience helping my clients with various investments, I have noticed that most agents do not respond to inquiries fast enough and/or most of the calls go to their voice mails. Building a rapport this way with a customer from the beginning of a relationship is a formula for an unsuccessful sale. Most successful and highly paid professionals such as real estate brokers, attorneys and even doctors are very quick to respond to a customer’s inquiry as they understand the principle behind building rapport.

Discovery & Assessment

The second step in any sales process begins with truly understanding the needs of our customer. It is in this step that we need to show our customers that we are actively listening to them by taking the time and asking properly scripted, open ended questions, and paraphrasing what our customer is telling us. Unfortunately, many sales people, even those who are very good at building rapport with a customer, fail. The main reason is, they are more active talkers than active listeners and they are very quick to come up with a solution for a customer. If we don’t understand a customer’s concerns and if we are not able to dig deep into those concerns, our solution to a customer’s problem is typically very general and less specific. This is because we have not taken the time to listen to their specific problem. Here is an example that can illustrate this better. Let’s assume that Nancy sells accounting software and solution to small businesses. If Nancy is told by her prospect customer that he is looking to upgrade his current accounting software without further explanation by her customer, Nancy’s assumption that her standard software is the solution to the customer’s problem may result in an unsuccessful sale. This is because customers rarely buy a product or service. They buy our products and services for what it can do for them.

However, if Nancy is good at probing questions and is willing to spend the time to learn about her customer’s challenges, she may realize that the customer’s need for an upgrade is because he is expanding the number of his company locations and is looking for not just a better software but a complete accounting solution. This is where Nancy can provide the customer a complete solution to the customer’s problem and not merely a new software. Without understanding the specifics of our customers’ problems and challenges, we cannot provide them with the benefits they will gain from doing business with us. This is where we can lose a customer as we become unconsciously focused discussing the features of our products and services rather than explaining the benefits. In the eyes of the customer, we become just another company who wants to sell our products and services and not really solve his/her problem.

The other steps in the sales process are also very important. However, without spending quality time to build rapport with our customers and going through a discovery session by actively listening and taking notes, even if get to those other steps, the chances of closing a sale is very low. In my next article, I will discuss the remaining steps.

Allen Nazeri DDS is a leadership and management expert. He is the founder of Dr. Allen Nazeri Consulting & Investment Advisory Group focused on health care organizations where they like to improve operational efficiency, scale through strategic joint venture partnerships as well as raise funds from private equity investors or Initial Public Offering. He may be reached at

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