Every sales leader wants greater revenue, which is the primary strategic outcome for which they are responsible. However, some leaders believe their most important goal is increasing the speed in which their revenue is generated. When one of these leaders suggests that they need efficiency or deal velocity, they typically require their sales team to take on a transactional sales approach.
This is largely due to the influence of technology. This influence brought us the concept of multitasking, something that computers can do well. Even if you believe you can multitask, you cannot. Instead, you’re merely alternating between tasks, dividing your attention. For these leaders, more and faster outweighs better quality.
We can also blame some of the transactional approaches on the prevalence of Amazon. Any entrepreneur or business leader would love to have the opportunity to hold onto willing customers’ credit cards and allow them to order anything they want without friction. We might call this “printing money.”
This is the dream that launched enough SAAS solutions to commoditize every category. It may also have been instrumental in the SDR and BDR roles that are now being used by companies who would do better with full-cycle sales reps.
Let us summarize the implication in one sentence: Sales leaders who try to speed up acquisition speeds by pushing their teams toward transactional approaches build a seller-oriented sales approach—and impose that same self-orientation on their sales reps.
Before we move on, know there are models that are transactional because it is right for the sales organization and their clients.
The Need for Efficiency: More
Whenever you see the word efficiency followed by the word sales, it signals something transactional. The SDR approach drives efficiency by having a lower-paid employee call and qualify the client before passing them to a higher-paid salesperson. No part of this approach is concerned with the prospective client’s sales experience or what they might need.
The word efficiency also shows up in the sales floors with young salespeople making hundreds of calls and hundreds of minutes of talk time. The sales rep needs to have conversations without spending too much time with any single contact, as that would somehow be inefficient, creating a conflict for the sales rep. Supposedly, more activity, regardless of any other factor, is better.
Refusing to allow a salesperson to meet with the client is another transactional approach because in-person sales calls are more expensive than virtual meetings. Relying on virtual to save money is nothing less than underinvesting in the client’s experience, which will make it easier for your competitor to win the client’s business.
The Need for Speed: Faster
When a sales organization reduces the amount of time spent with potential clients to increase sales velocity, they do so because they want faster revenue growth. Ironically, these attempts to speed up the acquisition of a new client come at the expense of the client, the salesperson, and often their company’s results.
You can never go faster than your client without making it more difficult for them when they are making a decision rarely required of them. Trying to prevent spending time with the contacts isn’t something you are doing for the client, even if you want to tell yourself you are going fast to help your client improve their results.
Get to the Pitch: Closing Faster
If you are a leader or potential decision-maker, you will find a dozen or more emails from salespeople or their automated prospecting sequences. Before ever having a conversation, the email has pitched their company and their solution, with the false confidence of the brutes who use a spray-and-pray approach to prospecting.
During the sales conversation, many salespeople rush to the pitch about how their solution is the best in class and right for the client’s problem. Salespeople who use this transactional approach believe they are building the value of their solution, but they are actually ruining the buyer’s sales experience. Ultimately, this will kill efficiency and do nothing to close the deal faster.
One company I bought from used their transactional approach to ask me if I could make a purchase by the end of the week. I agreed that I could buy on or before that day, provided they would discount the price by 33 percent. They sent the invoice without negotiating the discount. In their mind, faster is better than better.
I will repeat myself: If what you sell should be sold using a transactional sales approach, let nothing here stop you from doing so. But if how you sell isn’t right for what you sell and what your clients need from you, you are better off avoiding transactional approaches. See: How to Approach Transactional Sales.
Pity the Buyer
If you believe that selling is hard, know that buying is even more difficult. To improve your sales results, pity the buyer and help them by giving them time and a sales approach that is consultative enough you can provide your client with the confidence and certainty to move forward and improve their business results.
The Implications of Transactional Sales Approaches
Transactional sales approaches lead to a poor sales experience, too little help understanding of how to make a good and effective decision, failing to lead the client and facilitate their buyer’s journey, and buyers who look elsewhere for the help they need.
You also will lose more deals than you might have won had you worried more about what your client needs instead of what you need. No one has expressed this better than Zig Ziglar who said, “You can have anything you want if you help others get what they want.”
Leaving this post, list transactional strategies that show up in how you sell and begin replacing them with more consultative strategies.