How to Magically Move Prospects into a Buying State of Mind

Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group

Let's cover some of the lies being told to companies with sales organizations and how those lies prevent sales organizations from being their best.

Over the past 10-20 years, we have seen and heard the following proclamations:

Selling is dead. Circa 2001. This is obviously false! Currently in the US, there are around 4.5 million B2B salespeople and nearly 16 million salespeople overall and those numbers are growing.

Cold Calling is dead. This lie was so darn good that people actually believed it! Why? If they could justify not making cold calls anymore, then their lack of prospecting wouldn't look so bad because cold calling is dead anyway. Referrals and introductions are at the top of the food chain but a cold call is much more likely to convert to a meeting than a cold email or an inbound lead regardless of how many follow-ups are attempted. More importantly, you'll experience far less noise and competition for your prospect's attention by using the phone than if you use web-based cold approaches.

Inbound is King. False. How many years running did we hear that lie? Hubspot, the King of inbound, has a large sales force placing outbound calls to generate sales. How's that for dead?

There are no shortcuts, no magic pills, nothing but doing the hard work.
Dave Kurlan

SPIN Selling is dead. False. I first read this in 2008. While it it is true that only the top 5% of all salespeople can execute SPIN, it's still being taught and it's still being (kind of) implemented and executed. It's one of the oldest forms of consultative selling which, by all accounts, is supposed to be dead!

Solution Selling is dead. False. I first read that Solution Selling was dead in 2007. Most of the tech companies I have worked with had been using some form of Solution Selling prior to my arrival so it's not dead. I believe that there is a fatal flaw within Solution Selling that makes it far less effective and efficient than it could be (learn more here) but it's far from dead.

Consultative Selling is dead. False. According to Objective Management Group (OMG) who has evaluated and assessed 1,861,003 salespeople from 28,005 companies in 123 countries, 59% have not even begun to sell this way yet! How can something that is still trending up be dead?

Sales Process is dead. False. See Consultative Selling is dead. According to the same statistics, 52% of salespeople are not following a staged, milestone-based, customer-centric sales process. This is a huge improvement from just 10 years ago. This too is trending up, not down, so not is it not dead, but CRM without an integrated sales process is just a data warehouse. Make sure to check out the Membrain Baseline Selling Edition with my sales process & methodology embedded.

Traditional Selling is dead. False. This one depends on how you define traditional selling. If we define traditional as features and benefits selling (FAB), then it should be dead and buried. Unfortunately, it's far from dead because more than half of all salespeople - the weak half - are still selling this way.

The old way of selling is dead. See Traditional Selling.

Relationship-building in sales is dead. False. In 2011, Harvard Business Review, the biggest publisher of junk sales science, declared it dead. That alone should be reason enough to call it a lie. As a sales methodology, Relationship Selling prioritizes taking the time to make friends and build a relationship over time with the premise that people buy from people they like. In the 60's and 70's, the relationship was enough. Today, not so much. While people DO like to buy from people they like, the relationship is no longer the only criteria. If you can help your prospect as well as anyone else, the relationship could be a difference maker but if you can't meet the other criteria, so much for your relationship.

Always-be-closing is dead. This. Should. Be. Dead. It fits right up there with traditional selling and FAB selling. Half of all salespeople are not selling this way because they are afraid to! Sales bullies and amateurs sell this way - and they shouldn't because it leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths and gives salespeople a bad reputation.

Social Selling is dead. Already? Talk about fads! We've only been selling socially for several years so how can Social Selling die as quickly as Pokemon Go? The reality is that Social Selling never existed in the first place. Personal promotion? Sure. But selling? Nobody sells anything over social networks. Everything is marketing, advertising, blogging, tweeting, connecting, and building networks and followers. Sounds like PR and marketing to me.

Outbound is dead. False. See this article.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace salespeople. False. I'm sure you're getting the same cold emails as I do. They all promise to grow your business, generate leads, make appointments, and if you don't respond to their first attempt, then several more emails will follow. Each email is powered by AI. Each email is worse than the one which preceded it and are so awful that I'm sure they are all deleted. Further, AI will never be able to replace a human having a deep, thoughtful conversation that gets a prospect to become emotional. Prospects buy emotionally.

For example, check out the following consultative questions I taught a sales team to use yesterday. Even with me making the questions generic and hiding the responses, you should be able to easily understand the flow. Identify a business issue that you frequently uncover and use that as you convert the questions and answers to your business.

Salesperson: So why do you need this?
Prospect: Response.
Salesperson: How were you handling that problem up until now?
Prospect: Response.
Salesperson: How long has that been going on?
Prospect: Response.
Salesperson: If you've been doing it like that for all this time, why change now?
Prospect: Response.
Salesperson: Tell me about the last time that happened.
Prospect: Response.
Salesperson: How much it that cost when that happens?
Prospect: Response.
Salesperson: So over this period of time, what has the total cost been?
Prospect: Response.
Salesperson: How does you that affect you?
Prospect: Response
Salesperson: How do you feel about that?

In each case, the salesperson can't ask the follow up question unless they get the appropriate response they are hoping for. And as the questions become more emotional and more difficult, the tonality, pace and facial expressions must change along with it? Can you imagine this type of exchange taking place over email driven by AI? No. Freakin. Way.

All of the lies we are told create excuses for salespeople to not learn, embrace, practice and apply the most important aspects of successful selling. The lies mask the best practices of great salespeople and great sales organizations because they suggest that there's an easier way to sell where you can hide behind your keyboard and monitor. Well, I've got news for you. There are no shortcuts, no easy paths, no magic pills, nothing but doing the hard work. If it isn't challenging, and you aren't challenging yourself to improve, then AI will replace you.

Article originally published on May 17th, 2019 on
Dave Kurlan's Blog
Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group
Published May 19, 2019, written by

Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best selling author, successful entrepreneur and sales development industry pioneer. The founder and CEO of the Objective Management Group, Inc., the leading developer of sales assessment tools, headquartered in Westboro, Massachusetts. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., a leading sales force development firm. He has 3 decades of experience in all facets of sales development, including consulting, training, coaching, selection, strategy, systems, processes, and metrics.

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