I can predict, with a great degree of accuracy, when a new salesperson (to sales or to your company) will experience their first prolonged slump. When, you ask? When they become comfortable with the product or service they are selling.
That's right - the first slump almost always occurs when a salesperson becomes comfortable with what they are selling. How can this be? It's quite simple actually.
When a salesperson is not completely comfortable with their offerings, they are forced to pay extreme attention to the customer/prospect. They ask questions - lots of them. They don't push. And, most importantly, they don't jump to the solution. The spend time understanding the customer, because that's the only thing they can do. As regular readers of this blog may remember, that's right in line with The First Rule for Creating Demand.
Once the salesperson becomes comfortable with their offering, guess what they do? They start talking about it. Before you know it, they smack in the middle of the We-Do's. They start asking fewer questions, they pay a little less attention, and, without realizing it, they start pushing. They jump to the solution - confident they can explain their way to a sale.
The point of this post is not that salespeople should not become comfortable with their products or services (though I would strenuously advise that they should never become too comfortable with the offering); it's that product knowledge is secondary to focusing on and understanding your customer. What drives them, what worries them and what are the results they want to achieve.
The next time you go into a meeting with a customer or prospect - forget everything you know about your products, pretend you're new and use the time you would have spent telling them about your great stuff to ask deeper, more powerful questions. You'll be surprised just how effortless selling becomes.