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Are Your Sales Skills Getting Rusty? 6 Warning Signs.

Every tool gets dull and rusty when left unattended, including your sales skills. It doesn't matter if you're new to MSP sales or you've owned your business for decades; you may not have even noticed until now. All you know is that closing new clients seems to be harder than it used to be. Here are 6 signs that it might be time to stop and sharpen the axe.

picture of a rusty axe

"If you give me 4 hours to chop down a tree,

I'll spend the first 3 sharpening the axe."

I'm sure you're all familiar with this quote that's commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but it's worth dropping it here anyway. A rusty tool can often get the job done, but it won't get that job done very well. The bigger problem is that when your sales skills start to get dull, you can't see it as easily as rust on steel.

Here are six signs that can help you self-identify whether or not your sales skills have been neglected for too long.

1. You Start to Get Pushy

CUTCO has made a bunch of money with its slogan, "A dull knife is a dangerous knife." If your knife is dull, then you need to use a lot more force to cut your carrots. If the knife is sharper, then the blade does all the work. I'm not sure if the brand of knives is a good investment, but the logic is sound.

When you don't practice regularly, it's common to get frustrated and just start pushing harder. You lose that fine edge that separates persuasive from manipulative. You can come off as desperate, not passionate.

Early warning sign: When you try to set the next steps, prospects resist committing to specifics.

2. You Fail to Control the Sale

A pilot once told me that a plane flying from San Francisco to New York would be off course over 90% of the time. The onboard GPS will make course corrections constantly (sometimes hundreds of times an hour) as it makes the journey. Weather, altitude, and things like the vast distance to be traveled mean that it's basically impossible to get it right on the first try.

When you aren't practicing your sales process regularly, it gets difficult to guide a prospect through the sale. You tend to defer to their sales process (even if they don't really have one), which means you land at a very different outcome than you initially planned.

Early warning sign: You're getting ghosted instead of getting a yes or no.

3. You Aren't Communicating Your Value

There really isn't such a thing as "too expensive." It's an impossible concept. Sometimes you can't afford it; sometimes, there just isn't enough value in buying something. Other times there is value, but you can't access that value.

If a prospect tells you that you're "too expensive," all that means is that you haven't found a way to connect their need to your solution. That isn't always because you've done something wrong; maybe there really isn't enough value for them. But if you're constantly losing opportunities because of price, the problem isn't budget... it's value.

Early warning sign: Your prospects tell you that you're too expensive.

4. You Start to Smell Like a Salesperson

Have you ever met a person who really needed a blast of deodorant and just didn't seem to have received the memo? You know, someone whose scent arrived in the room before they did? I'm sad to say that I've met a few, and every one of them could not tell how badly they were stinking up the joint.

When you are out of practice, you start to smell. Not literally, but subconsciously. I've heard it referred to as Commission-Breath and Quota-Odor, but you've smelled it too on desperate salespeople who have come to sell you. These are the salespeople we absolutely do not let any further into the building, much less our buying organization.

Early warning sign: You can't get access to the real decision-makers.

5. You Are Just Selling F.U.D.

If I offered you a killer deal, up to 80% off your next limb amputation, would you schedule it for next week? All I need is a down payment to lock in this killer deal! I'm guessing that you're not at all interested. The same thing happens when you try to scare your prospects with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. You can't scare people into a trust-based relationship. It needs to be based on their need.

If you have something that people really need, people also tend to want it. If people don't want what you have, then either they don't really need it... or you aren't very good at explaining how what you have solves their problems. Doctors don't need to convince their patients to remove a limb. When they tell their patient the leg needs to go, the patient is usually convinced of the need.

Early warning sign: Your prospects just don't seem to be very worried about the problems you see.

6. You Aren't Acting Like a Trusted Advisor

How many advisors do you have that you don't really trust? It's not a bad idea necessarily, but I'm guessing you don't have people in your network that you ask for advice specifically because it's unreliable and unwise. "Let's see what Benny thinks. If he likes the idea, we shouldn't pursue it."

If you're telling a prospect what to do, and they don't take your advice, it might be because they just don't trust you, especially if you're working with a prospect that was not referred to you. Marketing Generated Leads specifically need to be nurtured and sold differently than a referral. There cannot be advice without trust.

Early warning sign: Prospects struggle to decide, and deals just drag on.

None of the problems listed above are fatal. You can still win new clients when one or more of these things are true. It's just important to remember that every opportunity matters. Not just because you can't afford to waste a chance at a new client or because blowing it with a prospect can sour a good referral partner.

We have an obligation to our prospects to help them make good decisions. Sometimes the best decision is that they hire your firm, sometimes it's not. When you're running at your best, selling the right prospect feels like the most natural thing in the world, and referring the wrong prospect to someone else feels like a win.

So ask yourself, "Do I see any of those early warning signs?"

If the answer is yes, please come spend some time in the MSP Dojo practicing your sales craft. You don't need to learn more; you need to get good at what you already know.

Don't waste another good prospect. Click here to get started now.

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