Keenan, CEO of Sales a Sales Guy, Inc. and author of “Gap Selling,” joined Gryphon’s Greg Armor for a webinar to discuss the latest in sales leadership, sales management, industry trends, and more. Specifically, Keenan touches on selling best practices and the risk of focusing too much on the product, rather than the problem. The following features a few highlights from Greg’s conversation with Keenan:

Greg Armor: What’s the most important thing that people should take away from your book?

Keenan: What they need to take away is that selling is not about salespeople. Selling is not about your product, it’s not about your company, and it’s not about YOU. If you look at most sales organizations, and the things we measure and the pressure we put on salespeople, it’s not about you: It’s about helping them – the prospect. If you can’t help them, it is what it is.

It is your job as a salesperson to help solve a problem that somebody is struggling with – a problem that is creating a negative impact or an untenable outcome that they don’t want to continue to live with.

GA: I see salespeople consistently going to a demo too fast. They don’t spend any time doing any discovery – they just want to show the product. But what does that do? How does showing your product teach you how to get that person to buy?

I think you’d agree; combining a demo into a discovery call is a disaster from day one. There’s a time and a place, but you have to find out more about the problem, the pain, and their need to buy. In your consulting experience, where do you think most companies struggle? Is it in understanding the problem?

K: You nailed it. I think it’s that they’re too product-centric. We are so conditioned (even when it comes to looking at a problem) to start with our product. I will say to people, “What problem does your product or service solve?” With at least 99% certainty, they will respond with an outcome, not a problem.

If you’re not teaching salespeople when they come onboard what problems your company solves for, the impact that those problems can have on an organization, and the root causes of those problems – if you aren’t flipping the script and spending 50% of the time on that and only 20% of the time on your product – salespeople won’t know how to discover the problem.

People ask me, “Why can’t my team get better at discovery?” Well, the reason is that you aren’t teaching them what to look for. Salespeople default to the product because they spend so much time training on the product.

GA: Do you have any go-to discovery questions that people can use to get to the problem?

K: I really only have one, and it’s simple. I know exactly what problems I’m looking for when I start a call. Then, I say, “Can you tell me a little bit about (blank).” For example, your current sales environment and the team’s productivity. They start talking, and I start listening very closely. From what I hear them say, I’ll ask another question and ask them to go a little deeper. I keep asking questions.

Before they know it, I’ve already diagnosed that they’re losing x amount of potential revenue because they’re only converting deals at 9%, and the bare minimum should be 20-25%. And they’re doing that because the sales team is too quick to go to a demo, and so on.

You have to listen. I know people don’t like that. But there’s no script.

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