Skip to main content

On this episode of the Sales Gravy Podcast, Jeb Blount (Sales Gravy CEO and author of Sales EQ) and Graham Hooper (CEO of Ellison Technologies) discuss the keys to leading your sales team in uncertain times. You’ll learn how to succeed in volatile economic times by effectively handling decision deferment objections and conducting thorough research during the discovery phase of the sales process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Salespeople can successfully navigate the transition from a red hot market to a stagnant down market, but it requires grit, discipline, and creativity.
  • In uncertain economic times and a world increasingly influenced by the power of AI, sales-specific emotional intelligence and human-to-human communication are the most important skills a salesperson can have when establishing trust and building relationships with buyers.
  • Conducting effective, deep discovery and handling buying decision deferment objections will give salespeople a competitive edge in any economic climate.

Transitioning From A Red Hot Market To A Stagnant Down Market

Many salespeople today are struggling to make the transition from taking advantage of a red hot market to navigating the doldrums of volatile economic times. Some sectors, like real estate, are experiencing the brunt of these changes in the market, where other sectors, like defense are seeing more profit.

Economic swings are cyclical and always will be, but especially in the last twenty four months, sales organizations are moving to a more traditional kind of selling.

Salespeople who know how to get creative, grind it out, and prioritize the fundamentals will see the most success in times like these. However, it’s not easy to make that mindset shift and truly rise to the moment.

The One Thing That Will Always Guarantee Your Success in Sales

For the individual salesperson, the most important thing that you can have in your arsenal to make it out on top in volatile economic times is not above-average intellect or a winning personality— it’s grit.

This is this ability to dig deep and take your career, your future, and your life into your own hands when things are difficult and it seems like there is very little in your control.

Getting up, getting yourself ready for the day, protecting your time and your energy, and making sure that you are putting yourself in front of the right people at the right time with the right message.

Nothing Compares to Real Human Connection

Another strength that will set you apart from other salespeople and allow you to break through the noise and truly connect with the right customers is sales-specific emotional intelligence— Sales EQ.

Salespeople aren’t the only ones experiencing tough times. Real human connection matters today more than ever. You must have the ability to see eye to eye with your customers, meet them where they are, and make them comfortable enough to open up and share their toughest business challenges.

When you connect the dots between their biggest problems and how you can help solve them, you build the foundation for trust and create lasting business relationships as a result. Conducting deep discovery is the key to helping your customers close the gaps and see positive change from your solutions.

The Only Communication You Can Trust is Human-to-Human

In today’s world, human-to-human communication is the only trustworthy form of communication. With more AI tools and services than any one person could take full advantage of, it’s not secret that we rely heavily on automation to maintain productivity and be maximally effective.

The downside of this is that written communication can easily be created and distributed by AI, which is often seen as inauthentic or untrustworthy.

So has the role of the salesperson changed in the expanding world of automatic and artificial intelligence? The short answer is yes. The rise and mass adoption of automation has certainly changed the value and responsibility of salespeople to be effective communicators.

In a world where robots are increasingly doing work for us, it is important for sales professionals to have strong communication skills, know how to build genuine trust, and establish close business relationships.

Spend 80% of The Sales Process In Discovery

That’s precisely why salespeople should invest about 80% of the time in the sales process in discovery. What are you learning about your buyer? What are you asking them?

Discovery is where salespeople face the most heartache, because when buyers are holding back, sellers don’t have any ammunition to reduce fear because they didn’t ask great discovery questions and do the work upfront.

In times of abundance and prosperity, salespeople skip that crucial step because buyers will decide to buy anyway. Salespeople often let their guard down and get transactional.

Doing deep level discovery is the only way to stay afloat in a down market because buyers are vulnerable, hesitant, and hard to reach. The transactional sale will not get the job done in volatile times.

You Need A Solid Business Case To Be Competitive

It’s easy to be complacent when times are good. But things have changed, even in growing industries. The competitive landscape is now much more intense than it used to be.

To succeed in this environment, you need to do your homework. You must have a solid business case for why your product is a good fit for the customer, and that requires a a great deal of research.

Once you have a use case and understand the challenges of the industry, you need to address any concerns that are specific to your buyers’ unique situation, business, or sector and show proven ROI. Doing your homework is fundamental to success, and that homework is done in discovery.

4 Ways to Handle Buying Decision Deferment Objections

Inevitably, buyers will present salespeople with decision deferment objections. It is imperative that salespeople handle these objections with tact, at both the emotional and rational level. Salespeople can prepare for these objections in a couple of ways.

Ask “Why” Questions to Uncover Fears

Ask questions that reveal their hesitation to buy, the perceived risk of purchase or adoption, and what is at stake for them in this relationship.

This will allow you to understand the fundamental reason why they don’t want to buy, and give you insight into how you can help them move forward in their purchasing decision, and ultimately create a sense of trust that reassures your buyer that you know what is most important to them and their company.

Get Creative With Soft Benefits

Whether this is providing extra training, additional customer support, access to premium features, or other similar benefits, giving your buyer an improved experience at little to no additional cost to you, while drawing their focus away from pricing alone.

Giving them some added benefits or bonus features helps them feel that they are getting value from your product or service that increases the return on their investment.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Sometimes it helps to instill a sense of urgency so that buyers are less likely to pull back from a purchasing decision. In this case, offer pricing that’s only available for a limited time, or offer an add-on that has limited availability.

Target Companies That Hold Steady In Down Markets

Of course, this isn’t always possible, but targeting larger companies with more flexible budgets, versus smaller companies that are on a feast or famine cycle will make it easier to prevent facing buying deferment objections in the first place.

A Slow Market Is Not A Dead-End

Salespeople can navigate the transition from a thriving market to a slow one by staying tough, focused, and innovative. In uncertain times, sales-specific emotional intelligence and authentic human-to-human communication are crucial skills to establish trust and build relationships with buyers.

By dedicating 80% of the sales process to discovery, salespeople can make a compelling case for why their product is a good fit for their buyer and learn what matters most to them, so that decision deferment objections don’t clog up the pipeline.

In this on-demand sales training on Sales Gravy University the world’s most sought-after sales trainer, Jeb Blount, delivers an essential blueprint for staying motivated, keeping your pipeline full, increasing sales, retaining your customers, and advancing your career in times of uncertainty and change.