The Two Most Common Security Sales Growth Problems (and How to Fix Them)
Frequently we see two problems that afflict security sales teams, causing owners and managers frustration and a company to stagnate. These problems also acutely become apparent during economic downturns, when it might be too difficult or too late to fix them.
As the pandemic continues, some security companies are strongly expanding while others are suffering. Regardless of which camp your company falls into, pay attention and understand these two common sales team problems and fix them now.
PROBLEM 1: Salespeople rely too heavily on existing accounts to grow sales.
In the security industry, we often see salespeople turned into account managers over time. Starting out as prospecting sellers, as they land bigger, commercial customers, they are then consumed with servicing those customers. While these accounts may provide additional new business during economic growth, their expansion may stop during a slowdown or as we’ve recently seen, a pandemic. The salesperson who was counting on existing accounts to grow now finds him/herself floundering for new business.
Business owners then get frustrated and complain that their salespeople don’t prospect enough, but owners need to see their own fault in not having managers hold salespeople accountable for new business generation from new customers. In addition, many compensation plans don’t discern new business from existing and new customers, which is a huge mistake.
Rarely does a salesperson do both a great job of hunting and account management, as these skills are very different. Plus, even if they hunted well before, just like a body’s muscles atrophy if they aren’t exercised, “prospecting muscles” atrophy as well, contributing to a “don’t–want–to–call” mindset.
The Fix: Managers need to conduct a comprehensive goal–planning session centered on the salesperson’s desires and aspirations. Afterwards, create a plan using the “Math of Success” worksheet to identify what the salesperson must do each day to ensure the pipeline is filled with adequate business opportunities, based on their closing ratios. (Email Gretchen@BoostProfits.com for a copy of the Math of Success worksheet.) Then, get a commitment from the salesperson regarding what they will do and hold them accountable for it.
The don’t-want-to-call mindset also needs attention from managers. Fifty-nine percent of sellers today have an oversized “need for approval,” meaning they need to be liked more than they need to close business. Additionally, 85 percent have self-limiting beliefs about sales and selling, such as, “I don’t like to cold call;” or “prospects that think it over will eventually buy from me.”
Individual mindsets must be addressed in addition to goal setting and activity commitments. The negative beliefs that one possesses are far stronger in sabotaging an individual’s success than we might imagine. To adequately change people’s beliefs and mindset takes time, reinforcement, and addressing the thoughts and experiences that underlie each.
PROBLEM 2: Salespeople would rather negotiate for a lower price internally than get paid for the full value provided to the client.
You might have a stringent pricing regimen that causes salespeople to lose commission if they fall below a certain gross margin. Great. But have you ever noticed that some salespeople will give up some of their commission to win the business? They believe that price is why customers buy and a fear of losing the business leads to discounting. This is largely inaccurate, however, because emotions account for at least 50 percent of the buying decision.
Another factor: 72 percent of salespeople are uncomfortable talking about money. No wonder they would rather lower the price, the margin and their commission to offer a discount than to sell value. The salesperson’s beliefs and lack of proficiency in selling value are clouding reality.
The Fix: Help salespeople focus on the value that is provided to the client by thinking in terms of the client’s “cost of failure” if they don’t choose your products or services. Work through actual calculations of the return on investment (ROI) of preventing a disaster, inferior product failures, or even the emotional toll on the decision maker(s) if they get blamed for the failure. Salespeople must understand the true value their solution brings to the client and the benefits offered that other clients may have experienced, but nothing will get buyers more engaged than if they can visualize the potential disaster that could occur if they make a mistake and don’t choose your company to help them.
These two common problems are not impossible to solve, but left unchecked they will stunt revenue growth, both from a prospecting and sales perspective and a discounting and price reduction standpoint. Put a stop to them both and watch revenue and profitability grow.
Gretchen Gordon is CEO of Boost Profits. Formerly known as Braveheart Sales Performance, the company recently combined efforts with Boost Pricing to bring a more comprehensive suite of revenue growth services to clients. Boost Profits helps sales teams sell more at higher prices to improve profits.