Five reasons we do not have GPS systems for selling

When I give coaching or training, I always get questions that indicate people want line-by-line instructions on how to win the sale. It just doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t mean we don’t benefit from sales methodologies.

We live in a push button era where technological innovation has made our lives simple. Push microwave buttons to get a perfectly made meal without having to know how to cook. Push cash register buttons to know how much change to give the customer without having to do math.  Push buttons to enter an address in a car’s GPS to get turn-by-turn directions from a pleasant, patient voice that will never yell at us even after we’ve passed our destination five times.

Why can’t we build a GPS for sales? Why can’t we build software that tells us exactly what our best next action is? Why can’t we enter questions or comments into a CRM system and have a pleasant, patient voice tell us exactly what to do next and never yell at us even after we’ve asked the same question five times? 

The reason GPS works is because after we enter the destination address the roads don’t change. The destination doesn’t suddenly move. The GPS knows that you are in a car not a plane. The GPS knows how long streets are and whether they are one or two way streets. It’s simply a math problem based on a lot of data on locations, distances and driving rules. In sales, after you identify the target, the path to a win can change because we’re dealing with people making decisions. The reasons we cannot automate selling:

People change priorities – I had a customer who considered it a priority to ship one of our new products. After receiving information about component costs necessary to build a device that would support our software, he decided it was no longer a priority.

People change positions – One of my customers was certain he needed more disc space to store all the information generated by a new program. His team learned that a software glitch caused all saved data to replicate five times. He decided he didn’t need more disc space.

People get worried – I’ve been in the position, multiple times, to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, on behalf of my employer, and when it comes time to sign the contract new reasons to worry can surface even when there’s no new information.

People dislike people – We have to acknowledge when our sales people just aren’t a good fit for the customer decision makers. Even when we have great sales people, there are times people just aren’t a good fit for reasons that we can’t pinpoint or change.

People change – I’ve been in many sales situations where the decision maker changes jobs before the sale is closed and the new person has very different decision criteria. We often have to start over and sometimes we’re just done because the new person doesn’t intend to buy.

The endless decision variables when people are involved, makes GPS impossible. People variables mean we need sales skills that allow us to read those variables and respond accordingly. Sales methodologies give us those skills and help us stay on path, making us more efficient. It’s still hard work but methodologies are helpful. For those managers who continue to look for methodologies that make the sales process formulaic, give up. Nothing exists that takes push button inputs and spits out the best next action for a sales person.

©2013 Rick Wong – The Five Abilities™ LLC


Winning Lifelong Customers with The Five Abilities