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A salesperson must be able to have an in-depth conversation with their prospects about their finances.
As much as 65% of salespeople have a difficulty discussing money with their clients, and this has a negative impact on their performance.
The innate strengths and weaknesses of the representative constitute their sales DNA. Each has an impact on many levels of the rep’s performance.
Mainly, we refer to 6 distinct elements:
- No need for approval
- Control of emotions
- Supportive beliefs
- Supportive buy cycle
- Comfort discussing money
- Handling rejection
Today we’ll focus on the fifth element: the ability to discuss money. It’s essential for a representative to master these taboo discussions if they’re to successfully complete all the stages of the sales process.
How does being uncomfortable discussing money impact the sales process?
For a sales representative
A representative who’s uncomfortable talking about money will avoid questioning the client about their available funds and their provenance, the method of payment, etc. These are important elements to know in order to better orient the sale.
This capacity is even more important when dealing with retailers or suppliers. These financial details are crucial for understanding turnover, end of year profit, the organization’s satisfaction with this profit, etc.
In addition to having an impact on the negotiation and the qualification of the prospect, this discomfort will influence the rep’s ability to sell value. For example, if the representative wants to present a high-end offer with added value but believes that the client only has the budget for a lower offer, the rep won’t be inclined to help the client find the necessary funds.
All these factors add up and make this a weakness which has a direct link to a sale’s success.
For a sales manager
Though not essential, the ability to discuss money with confidence is a strength for the sales manager.
First, a discomfort with financial issues will inevitably create a blind spot in the sales manager’s coaching. Indeed, a representative must get the chance to hear and be coached about money by their manager in a natural way.
On a more personal matter, the sales manager may have difficulty discussing the financial situations of their representatives (salary, objectives, financial needs). These discussions are important, if only to better know the reps and in return offer them a more personalized coaching.
How does the discomfort of talking about money manifest itself?
1. The representative avoids asking how much money the client can invest in the project: Not knowing how much the client is willing to invest, there’s a risk of making a proposal at the lowest possible price.
2. The representative doesn’t respond to clients asking how much it will cost them: In this situation, the representative will often say that a price can’t be given on the fly, and that a proposal will follow by email.
3. The representative thinks it’s inappropriate to address the issue of money: The uneasy representative thinks that all potential clients are also uneasy discussing money and so they don’t broach the subject.
4. The representative presents inadequate solutions: Often in these cases, the presented solution fails to meet all the client’s needs.
5. The representative offers free consultation: Thinking that the clients are unwilling to pay for expertise, representatives offer free solutions.
In short, a representative who feels uncomfortable talking about money will try to avoid the subject when discussing with the client.
Since the representative considers this a touchy subject, a feeling of meddling surfaces when the time comes to question the client about their budget. As a result, either the rep will avoid it altogether, or broach it on the surface by asking the simple and inadequate question, “What is your budget?”
According to the baseline selling methodology, this discomfort is especially apparent between the 2nd and 3rd base. The opportunity at the qualification stage is indeed the moment when the representative must address the questions of money to know if they should continue the process with the prospect.
How do I know if the representatives are having trouble talking about money?
A good sales manager should notice it during coaching, for example when the rep is questioned about the amount that their client is willing to invest.
During a coaching session, a sales manager can debrief and ask the following questions:
1. How much money is the client willing to invest?
2. How do you know?
3. Did you ask the client?
If, following several meetings, the answers concerning money remain vague or negative, it’s quite possible that the representative is having difficulty talking about money.
Evaluating the sales force
The sales force evaluation identifies the major weaknesses which hinder sales performance. The difficulty of talking about money is part of it, as is the need for approval, the purchasing habits, controlling emotions, handling rejection and beliefs.
With an evaluation of the sales force, a leader gets a global view of the salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses, which allows the sales manager to coach each one on their individual weaknesses.
How can I help a representative who has trouble talking about money?
Coaching is probably the best way to help the representative.
One of the strategies that the sales manager can use is to expose the rep to various situations where money might be discussed, such as with role play.
The sales manager can encourage the rep to question colleagues about the cost of their last vacation or about the amount of money they put aside for retirement, for example.
All of this is intended to desensitize the representative and accustom him or her to discussing money with potential clients.
In short, the ability to talk about money is a skill which can evolve only if the representative becomes aware of it and practices desensitization. Even though it isn’t the most apparent element of sales DNA, it can still have a big impact on the sale.