December 16

9 Sales Challenges To Overcome in 2023


On Episode 259 of The No Limits Selling Podcast, Umar interviewed 2 amazing sales & business coaches. They discussed about 9 key sales challenges in 2023 and how to overcome them.

Steve Bookbinder: Steve helps salespeople, marketers and managers build the right pipelines, reach the buyers and influencers they need and develop the right teams and partnerships needed to achieve success.

To connect with Steve: LinkedIn

Kurt Uhlir: Kurt Uhlir is a globally-recognized marketer, operator, and speaker. He’s built and run businesses from start-up to over $500M annual revenue, assembled teams across six continents, and participated in dozens of acquisitions.

To connect with Kurt: LinkedIn

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits selling podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you. Do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under three days guaranteed not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes. Click on it to find out more. All right, let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:39
Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the No Limits Selling podcast today happy to announce that we're releasing an app. It's called Mindset Boosters. And it gives you the power to decide how you want to feel or act in any situation. And basically, it'll be in the palm of your hand. And on a particular day, if you're not feeling the magic isn't to show you how to tweak your mindset. So you go into, let's say, competence goes down to a to that day, we'll get it up to an eight in like five minutes and go sell something make it happen. So we're gonna put a link for that in the show notes. You can instal it, it's free, you're gonna love it. But today, we have two people that are experts in sales, and one of them is so intense about sales to get a sale. He swam the English Channel. Steve, welcome to the programme.

Steve Bookbinder 1:26
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Umar Hameed 1:28
And Kurt being like, wanting to one up better, he flew over the English Channel to get a sale. It's amazing. Gentlemen, welcome to the programme.

Kurt Uhlir 1:37
Thanks for having me.

Umar Hameed 1:39
So brilliant. So you know, what's kind of interesting is, you know, I can just imagine, you know, a market, you know, in Egypt, three 500 BC, and there's some dude selling camels. And there's another dude down the street selling camels, and do two is doing way better than dude, one. And he's wondering, what's he doing different, like we've been selling for, like forever. And somebody had come across a sales training manual that was the original one for the NCR company. But there had to be ancient texts as well. So this is an art form we've been doing for a long time. But yet, it's still such a challenging thing to do, especially in challenging times. So today, what I wanted to do was to talk about the challenges in our current climate. So we're going to look at nine challenges, how to overcome those in 2023. But before we get started, what we're going to do is Steve, Why do you think a lot of salespeople find it challenging to sell?

Steve Bookbinder 2:34
Well, if I'm looking at them from the outside, I'm recognising that most people don't define professional sales properly. And so as a result, everything else goes off the rails. Most people think the word sales means persuasion. And some people think it means tricking somebody, but it's somewhere in there. And that's not professional sales. And although persuasion may be part of it, that sound professional sales, professional sales is about hitting a number by a certain date. So it's usually hitting a number on a certain date every month, every quarter. So to set yourself up for long term success is not about one time convincing somebody to buy something. And I mentioned this because the skill that you think you need, if you think that sales by convincing is how to sell. Everybody I've met knows how to sell because selling is easy, have a conversation. But hitting a certain number on a certain week is a different skill. I call it strategic pipeline manage. Most people don't have that in the same way. They don't have strategic time management, they just sort of maybe notice how much time everything takes but they're not strategic in their time management and that same way that it's a different skill and they do different things. So they fail because they don't practice strategic pipeline management.

Umar Hameed 3:52
Okay, so a couple things number one where you went with that is not what I expected, but we went I think is like spot freaking on which is like it's a business it's about hitting numbers and doing it consistently. So you see the long term growth I would not have defined it that way I would have defined Professional Selling inaccurately so thank you for that. Kurt. Why do you think people have so much difficulty selling like this a stat I don't have it in front of me but I'm gonna make it up just as all good shows that you know, something like 60 plus percent of salespeople have difficulty asking for the sale. They'll talk around it and but they won't just say dude sign on the line or some variation of that. So why do you think sales is so challenging for so many people?

Kurt Uhlir 4:31
Yeah, I think Steve hinted very much on it. It's like too many people think of sales is persuasion and trying to convince somebody that's that's a I mean, there is nature to that. But But I think the best salespeople they're not trying to sell we have to hit our numbers. You're right, Steve, but but they're trying to serve. And so I'm working for a company now. I have to hit those numbers. This core. That's very important. But many of the clients that I've worked with in many different industries, they will work with me repeatedly at different companies or companies I buys because they trust To me, some cases, I've told them, This is not the right product for you. And so, you know, I It's no problem asking for the sale, if you actually believe that what you're selling is a help and a solution to a problem they have, it's only hard to ask for that sale, if I really believe that I'm trying to convince you into something that's not really going to benefit you want, I'm just trying to get the money from you. But if I think that my solution is actually going to change your life or change your business, I can of course, that's easy to ask for.

Umar Hameed 5:26
Brilliant. So I'll give you my definition of that. I think ultimately, at the end of the day sales is about relationships. And the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. And I think that sometimes gets in the way of, I think I saw this stat somewhere, if a salesperson thinks $500 is a lot of money, they'll be more likely to discount the price when the client says, Oh, that's too much. Oh, of course, it's too much. Let me discount it for you. And so let's play a game. And that's the game we're going to play. The game we're going to play is nine ways to make salespeople better. And we might go into an overtime round. And what we're going to do is I'm going to start with Steve, and you're going to come up with one way you think salespeople could get better give that piece of advice. And then we'll go to Kurt and I'll give me enough time to come up with something and then we'll go around again. And let's see how far we get.

Steve Bookbinder 6:18
Okay, I don't know if this is cheating. But my first piece of advice is, is maybe it's either one or five all in one. But I'll give it to you this way. I think that customers all customers, including us salespeople, when weird customers have five questions in their head, whether or not they ask them. And those questions are sort of easy to ask, but hard to answer. What problems does the salesperson solve? What makes them different? What makes them better? What makes their solution ROI positive? And finally, why does the salesperson even think that there's an actual benefit? What is their point of view, as I call it? So salespeople anticipating the customer's wondering those five questions, and then spends the time developing great, impactful answers, will armed themselves with these five value statements that will help them dance through almost any sales conversation they get in.

Umar Hameed 7:14
Love that we're going to write that down.

Steve Bookbinder 7:16
Especially the what makes us different points.

Umar Hameed 7:19
Love it. Number two to you, Kurt.

Kurt Uhlir 7:22
Yeah, I'd say hoping helping the client or the prospect realise they're scared of uncertainty anyways, especially with the market globally right now. And helping them one acknowledge that they're scared, but also by not making a decision. That is the decision. We've been talking about a problem, Mr. Mrs. prospect, you've acknowledged you have it. And I think this is a solution by not by not choosing me or somebody else, then you're choosing to have this problem next year or the following year or the year after.

Umar Hameed 7:51
Brilliant. So number three, I think salespeople have a relationship with money. And sometimes that relationship is unhealthy. A good example would be one of the exercise exercise I do is say, Okay, I'm going to suggest to a group of salespeople what your annual income should be. I'm going to start low, I'm going to work myself high. Just notice what thoughts and feelings come up. And we start, you know, does that mean get to 100,000 200,000 500,000 a million ,2 million, 10 million? And then I asked them, you know, what did it feel like when the numbers are way lower than you're earning right now is like, that's not me. What did it feel like when we got to what you're earning felt comfortable? What did you feel like when I said something slightly higher, felt awesome. When I got a lot higher, then it's like, Oh, my God, I was thinking I'm working all the time, my kids will turn to drugs, and we start telling ourselves stories. And that kind of indicates our financial thermostat where it's set. So if your financial thermostat is set too low, doesn't matter how much sales training you have, you are going to gravitate towards that thing. And I think part of sales is getting a better relationship that you have with money. Thoughts, Comments, before we go to you, Steve.

Steve Bookbinder 8:59
What am I the books behind me is the Millionaire mindset which talks about how we develop these thoughts about money from from early on, and it impacts everything we do and include, including the customers, we talked about money, and how upset people want to share all kinds of stuff except about money. So absolutely right on that one. But so to expand on that for you. Oh, okay. So I had when I in 2008, I had this life changing experience, I swam the English Channel. And what I learned about that experience was it wasn't just about so called getting in shape. What it was, was there were three things that makes the English Channel the hardest, open water, swim, cold water, really cold, rough water, jellyfish. And what I've learned and I launched a company the year after that in the middle of recession, which is this company I'm working in now. And I learned that every big challenge always has cold water who rough water jellyfish, what do you don't want to jump into water that makes you feel like you're drowning? Jellyfish are things you were afraid of, and you would try to avoid. And so what you need to do if you're gonna go after an amount of money you've never gone after, you've got to say to yourself, what is the cold water and the rough water and the jellyfish I'm going to encounter are in that process, which I would not encounter if I was going after a lower number. And let me be determined to overcome those as opposed to having those as ready excuses in my back pocket. I've heard people define excuses as a well defined ly well planned lie. So you already know we're gonna have cold water or rough water jellyfish. Let's plan for that. And let's like, for example, as you're closing more sales, you run out of time to prospect. So how are you going to overcome that? That's the rough water, how are you going to change your time management to make that work?

Umar Hameed 10:51
I love that. Like in some movies, they have, you know, the evil entity, you can't know its name, because if you know its name, it loses its power. And if you know what the rough water is what the jellyfish are just articulating it, because most people just kind of hide from it. So it's like, even scarier, if they get to name it, then they can like call up Kernza Hey, Kurt, here's the rough water for me. I'll call up Steve, here's the jellyfish helped me figure this out. And you will. So Kurt, number five to you.

Kurt Uhlir 11:18
Yeah, for me, I think it's, you know, help helping the salesperson connect with the customers values and what's going on in their lives. And so Steve, to your point, kind of like that there's rough waters at work, there's rough waters and things going on. There's often rough waters going on in people's lives as well. I mean, I look at you know, one of the companies I you know, I was started out, we were moved, we were changing who was working with us on the HR sites, we're going to change to a PEO for for all of our payroll and whatnot. And I just kept getting hounded by the salesperson, because he was just he was thirsty for the money, thankfully, actually knew his boss, the regional, the regional VP, and I called him I'm like, Look, I will call you all when I'm ready. But if Daniel doesn't stop bothering me right now, I will choose a competitor. And now in that case, because I was friends, I was able to reach out, but things are going on off in people's lives where, hey, whether it's troubles at work, or offseason work or things are going on, hearing what people are or where people are, and then respecting where that's at, and letting them realise you're there for them as people as much as you are for them as a person or as a business as well.

Umar Hameed 12:21
I love that. And I really liked that, you know, uncovering the values, because uncovering the values is such an important part of the sales process. Because if you're selling to the wrong values, you're not making the sale. And in order to get the values, you need to have connection. So one of the questions that I love, I'm going to make this my number six is not so much. Kurt, why did you do that? Why did you do that automatically gets Kurt to bring up his defences, whether he wants to or not. But how did you decide to do that? Customers always go, huh? And they actually you can see them thinking about what was the process? They used to come up with that decision? How did you decide to do that? And that gives salespeople such a valuable set of information about what's happening in the other person's world. And it also sets you apart from all the other salespeople because they're all about the why. And I know that's in vogue right now. But the how question gives you information you can use and help the client in a more significant way. Number seven, Steve?

Steve Bookbinder 13:24
Okay, well, I'm gonna I was gonna go with a different one, but because of what you just said, I agree exactly with what you just said, you know, finding out like, asking people, how they how are you gonna make a decision going forward, you get a worse answer than the one you suggested, which is find out their past buying patterns, their history, and I think actually, when you want to avoid being a pushy salesperson, what's the difference between pushy and not pushy? The pushy person never asked about past buying patterns, they just ask, you know, are you going to buy this thing today? So but along those lines, I think it just in general, there are many sales opportunities for asking what I call a second level question. Let me give you an example. customer says to a salesperson at the end of a first meeting, I work as part of a team, I'll have to talk to them. Average salesperson says, Oh, can I go with you to talk to the team? But a second level question it'd be even more helpful will be to say, will you be recommending us to your team? Oh, well, he's gonna recommend me to the team. It's a whole different story than if they give me and their hair was on fire with excitement versus Well, I don't want to bias the team. Well, that's that answer tells me should I get involved with this and I've tried to present for them or or another one is this. You know, we're currently using your competitor but we hate them, which usually triggers off the chain, you know, a sound and you want to get a proposal but a better question is then if you hate them, how come you haven't already switched? Yeah, You know, so asking second level questions will help us understand a buyers motivation. And it will help us figure out what's the right strategy more than anything else.

Umar Hameed 15:10
I love that and I to follow up on yours, you know, what do you hate about them?

Steve Bookbinder 15:14
Yeah, yeah, you probably vetted them when you bought from them, but maybe you changed. And that's why they stink now.

Umar Hameed 15:22

Kurt Uhlir 15:23
Alright. Well, I mean, piggybacking on both what you said, I mean, it is more than otherwise. Now, the patterns. For me, I think every salesperson, almost at every stage in the discussion, they should be doing a hidden assumption audit, there are there are things going on, when your client says this is the problem, this is what they need. This is how they make decisions. And for me, I mean, huge help at home with my wife, but very much so from a work perspective is, hey, when they're saying something, what are the assumptions behind there? Because that's often where those second level kind of questions come from, for me is, gosh, you said this, but for that to be true? Well, this has to be as an assumption behind there. And in some cases, just putting that out there directly confronting it, but or asking questions around it. But and there may be one, there might be seven hidden assumptions, especially when you're starting that relationship.

Umar Hameed 16:10
I love it. And I think one of the key ways of asking that is, I felt there was a hidden agenda underneath the thing you just said, Am I reading that? Right? And I love that, am I reading this right? Kind of thing? And people either go yes, or like, no, no, no, not that. And they'll they'll go deeper in that way to stop someone from like, assuming, because if you guess, right, you're like, freaking amazing. And if you get strong, then it kind of breaks the connection a little bit. So I love that, here's gonna be number nine. I'm gonna whip out on this. But I think it's the most important out of everything that we've talked about. But it's one that everybody knows. So it's neglected, I think the number one thing that we need to make sure we do is building that rapport. It's the fundamental, the deeper, the rapport, oh, if you get it done really well, then you hear your potential customer saying, I shouldn't be telling you this. But I don't make the decision. It's decide it's made or so I think rapport rapport, rapport is like so critical, not only in sales, but right now, you're probably taking someone in your family for granted. And so if you take the time to match volume and speed of speech and gestures that sometimes I hear from people saying, and I was at one of your workshops, and I started using that with my teenage son, who used to talk to me and thought I was like Superman, but now it's like one word answers. And soon as I started using rapport, we're having conversations again, and it's like, pretty magical. And if you can sell a teenager, your teenager, you can sell anybody. So we've got some time left. So Kurt, why don't I let you kind of take the floor? In? Which direction? Should we kind of what's something we should address as a trio right now that would help people in 2023 out salespeople?

Kurt Uhlir 17:52
Well, I, mean, actually, like, how do we get to that report a little bit? Because for me, what I you know, we may each have different tips about how do I actually get that? Or how do I know that I'm there to your point, when I get that example, they come back someone afterwards? I know, I had the report I was connecting me for I'm looking for often in that conversation. You got that? Right. Like those were repeating to somebody the problem the solution, or what's going on one should I call you back when I get interrupted? And whether it's my wife, or the prospect tells me you got that? Right. Like, like there's not anything better I can get than that, but actually getting the check was a male.

Umar Hameed 18:28
I yeah, I love that. And of course, if you get the Shut the hell up that's from your wife, that's not good.Steve, what would you like to share ?

Steve Bookbinder 18:39
I am also going to leverage off on you know, there's, there's an intuitive, common sense, rapport, you know, people buy from people they like, you know, that's those kinds of rules, I think are true. But how do you develop rapport in the end? Like, what's the mechanic? What's the formula, you got to meet people more than once? So the average person that I talked to, and I've trained 50,000 people, and since I do pipeline management, I've looked at 50,000 pipelines a million times. And what what's the biggest problem is people, their prospects don't have a next step. So they meet once and they don't have a next step. Well, if you want to have a rapport with somebody, the more times you get together, the more the it changes everything, you know, your total stranger, the first meeting the third time you meet each other, you know, your quality of your conversation is different. So you talk to most salespeople ago, so tell me about yourself. Well, first I met and at the end of the meeting, the customer kicked me out, but they didn't really kick me out. What they said was, hey, interesting. Could you get me a proposal which is a really nice way of kicking you out. So now you've had one meeting, no report because you did all the talking. And now you're coming back with you don't even coming back with it. You're sending he got a homework assignment and no next step. So when I realised when I first got into sales was I got to start counting if you want to prove anything count how many times I go on a first meeting and have a scare jewelled next step. If I can't even get the other person to put my name in their calendar, why would I think they're going to send me a check? So what is my ratio of getting people I meet to get? Well, I learned about myself that it was seven to one. But by changing the way I prepared for meetings, I was able to get it from seven to one, to 1.9. To one, one point now, first appointments equals one scheduled, when that happened, my sales quadrupled, not by getting better presenting or negotiating, just getting better at beginning people who's only once does me a second time. And I've applied that throughout the sales process. And as a result, I get more next steps, I'm much better able to position my sale that fits what they want. Because in the third meeting, they finally told me that thing that they didn't tell me the first meeting, which I'm glad I finally learned.

Umar Hameed 20:48
So Steve, Kurt and I are both going to meet with you again once so we want to we will bring that to 1.9 to 1.8. So before we parted company, Kurt, you get to ask me one question. And then Steve gets to ask me one question.

Kurt Uhlir 21:03
What are the two? What are the two KPIs that you look at most when you're coaching somebody to know whether they're on the right track or not?

Umar Hameed 21:12
So pretty much the I'm only gonna give you one because I'm a slacker. But I think it's referrals. Like, how many clients do you have? What's the percentage of referrals you're getting? Is it one to one? Is it three clients to one referral, and just working on that, because that gives you people only refer you if you're doing like a kick ass amazing job. And so that's one of the measurements I like a lot. Is that, and that's the main one that I kind of focus on. Steve, any, any questions?

Steve Bookbinder 21:42
Yeah. You know, famously, according to studies that I've seen by Gartner and other groups, they say that the customer has changed. They say that today's busy b2b customer is more like a consumer customer. They say that the customer b2b customer spends 50 to 75% of their time in their buying cycle, they're through 50 to 75% of the buying, before they even talk to a salesperson. So given that the customer has now changed as a new generation of customers, what do you think is the right way for salespeople to change their approach to be right for the new kinds of customer in the new kind of buying process.

Umar Hameed 22:19
I'm gonna go to that old standby, it comes down to at the end of the day to that relationship you have with yourself and with that customer. And that rapport is a really great way. And I liked the questions you had, like everything we talked about was getting clarity between me and another human being. And I think the more of that we get, the more likelihood we have of making a sale, the more likelihood we are of having that second meeting. And the more likely we are to be braver to do those follow throughs. I was at a sales team and this guy landed a sale. And the boss said, you know, how many times did you have to reach out to this guy to get the sale? He says 21 times and says Didn't you think he was a pest? He says no, he didn't actually remember the last 20 Just a 21st time I reached out he happened to be in the bright moment to buy it was in real estate and I got the listing for this property. And and I think that's tenacity is is critical. And if you've got the right relationship is not seen as pestering someone. But if you don't have the right relationship, then it seemed seem as you know, hey, you're pushy. So before we part company, Steve, what's, what makes you happy in your profession? What brings you joy?

Steve Bookbinder 23:30
I am in a position now of helping other people make more money in sales, and then just make more money, but just have a more satisfying career in sales or sales management. And I think sales management is a is a wonderful opportunity to help people I think salespeople have a wonderful opportunity to improve their lives, not just the amount of money they make. So I'm in a position to help so my favourite thing is being able to help people make money. Yeah, not just close the sale, they didn't think they were gonna close, but actually live a life that they didn't think they'd be able to live and being able to be part of that process is the most gratifying thing too.

Umar Hameed 24:09
And love that. Because ultimately, at the end of the day, I think business has done more to improve humanity than than governments. And the tip of the spear are salespeople that make the revenue that makes that possible. Kurt, for you What brings you joy in your work?

Kurt Uhlir 24:24
Yeah, somewhat similar to Steve's that I you know, I'm in a place where I'm able to help salespeople, marketers, operators, those that are the top 1% They can work anywhere they want and let them realise that like don't go sell widgets don't go sell something that doesn't change somebody's lives. You should only if you're good at what we do. You should only be working at companies or for yourself where you know that you're actually helping your clients be successful not just at work, but because of that be successful.

Umar Hameed 24:54
Love that gentleman thank you so much for being on the programme. I enjoyed the conversation. I learned a lot and I can't wait for our next conversation.

Steve Bookbinder 25:01
Me too. Thank you so much for having us.

Umar Hameed 25:08
if you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at no limit selling.com I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro linguistic programming, and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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