“Everyone is a salesperson…” Have you ever heard that phrase? Maybe you’ve made that statement, and likely you believe it. I’m here to tell you that is not true. I’ve been a sales professional and I’ve trained and managed salespeople. Getting business, and being a salesperson are not the same and I think it sets the wrong perspective for anyone who struggles with the idea that they must “sell” to succeed.
As Jeffrey Gitomer regularly proclaims, “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.” Selling is often transactional, and it requires an individual to convince another person that they must purchase what they are promoting. When you’re selling, the other person may not be in the buying mood, even if they have a need. Therefore, a salesperson’s job can be very challenging. Imagine having to complete the sale, regardless of the customer’s position. Can you see a potential disconnect?
Sales folks Must Learn to Handle Rejection
One of the biggest challenges that salespeople face is continual rejection or a feeling of frustration when the person they are talking to seems irritated with their attempts to “service” the account. The salesperson might believe they are providing a valuable service. Is the buyer feeling the same way? Often not. In fact, they might feel pressured or annoyed by the salesperson’s efforts, depending on the interaction or simply their own state of mind.
THEY LOST THEIR CONFIDENCE
Salespeople must grow thick skin to survive. Most people who are not experienced sales professionals would take continual rejection personally. Even experienced salespeople regularly feel a sting when they get a cold reaction from a prospect. This can cause a person to lose confidence. Have you ever dealt with a salesperson who seemed to lack confidence? In most instances it’s very alienating. It can become a circular issue: That alienation leads to even more lowered confidence. That lowered confidence creates a hypersensitivity to rejection, leading to even more struggles. It essentially turns selling into an exercise in futility if you let these feelings get the best of you. Many sales people are labeled overconfident, cocky, or brash. Often it’s a survival strategy to minimize the negative impact of rejection.
If most entrepreneurs had to face the same level of rejection, they’d shut down their business and find another line of work. And if you’re not in a revenue producing role, the above description probably makes you pray you never have to be a salesperson.
Sales Quota Management is Critical to Measuring Success
Keep in mind that most salespeople are facing a quota or have some sort of pre-determined sales target that’s designed to keep them pushing for more “sales.” Their job is to convince a buyer that the solution they are selling is the right one for them. And more importantly, that they are the right salesperson to represent those products. Let’s imagine that I need a new printer and I have a budget in mind. I’m conveniently contacted by a printer salesperson when I’m ready to buy. It seems like a good match in the making. If the price is fair and I feel I can trust the person selling, there’s a good chance I may decide to buy from them. In this case, I’m a captive audience. I have a need and I met someone who can fill that need, making things very easy on me. Does the salesperson really have to “sell” me? Unless they try to convince me to move beyond my budget, it was more of a transactional sale driven by my need. A convenient process, a trusted transaction, and a budget fit, leaves me ecstatic. And they go from salesperson to order taker.
What about Bob ?
Now let’s take a different scenario. Bob is a salesperson who stopped by my office and told me he wanted to show me new printers. I considered upgrading, but the printer I had was working fine. Bob insisted I needed to see the new technology that his leading printer had integrated into its platform. I allowed him to give me a demo, which was impressive, but it’s more than I would want from a printer.
Afterward, I asked for the price. The number he gave was a stretch of my budget. Bob insisted I needed this special printer, telling me it would save me money on ink over time, due to a special feature of this “super machine.” He pressured me to move forward, but I was not ready. I told him that the timing was not right. Bob seemed annoyed that I wasted his time, and I was annoyed he didn’t respect mine.
WE LOVE TO BUY
A few days later he reached out by phone, insisting I needed to take advantage of this offer before his price went up. I told him the time was still not right. He was curt and I felt that he was annoyed that I said no. He continued to pursue me, but every correspondence with him made me feel pressured. A few days later, my printer stopped working, and I needed a new one. Instead of calling Bob I went to a local electronics store to see what options they had. I found a printer that was in my budget and had the features I needed. I was excited to walk out with my new machine, so I gladly made the purchase.
Like clockwork, Bob contacted me a few days later and I shared the news about purchasing a new printer. He was livid and believed I was disrespectful for not giving him a shot at the sale.
Throughout the process, I felt Bob was “selling” me. No one wants to be sold… Bob was pushing a product that I didn’t want and couldn’t afford. He wasn’t patient when I said it was out of my budget and that I wasn’t ready to make a purchase. And when I had a need, I was ready to buy, but not from him. He was not the person I wanted to work with, as I felt he had pressured me continually. He had products that would have been perfect, but he kept pushing a product I didn’t need. His approach left me feeling annoyed every time I heard from him. I was excited to buy a new printer when it came time, but I didn’t feel Bob was going to be the person who would take care of me. I hated to be sold, but I loved to buy.
High-Tech Solutions changed everything for Bob
While a fictional scenario, Bob’s situation is based off a real-life example I saw a former client go through. Bob’s company was under new ownership after an acquisition by a larger firm. He was facing extreme pressure to sell a line of hi-tech printers that his new employers were known for. They had restructured the commission of all the salespeople on his team, insisting that they meet the quota on these higher priced printers, or they would face a massive loss in earnings.
Bob loved his job prior to the ownership change. He was always seen as a consultative professional, and was one of the top salespeople in his field. He expected to dominate in the new role. However, the new situation had him feeling stressed and under pressure to perform like he had never experienced. He needed to maintain his standard of living, and the only way was to push these printers. He really did love the technology, but felt the product was overpriced, so he had to make a compelling story to find buyers.
He kept pursuing prospects with this high dollar offering and avoided talking about other products, due to the target set by the leaders in his company. He hated selling this way, but he aggressively pursued people repeatedly, hoping they’d buy. It was the only way to reach his goal (so he believed). His manager was pressuring him daily, asking why he wasn’t producing. He grew increasingly frustrated with every “no” and began to lose his confidence. He was fearful of losing his job, despite his previous near perfect track record. He didn’t even realize how he was coming across to potential buyers, but he knew he was falling behind his quota. He was selling from a place of desperation. He believe it was the product price holding him back, but it was actually him that was alienating buyers right and left.
Quota pressures, commission cuts, and extreme demands from management are what many salespeople deal with daily. Add shareholders into the mix and things get even more challenging.
Are you Ready to Leave Your Comfort Zone
So, let’s reframe this discussion. Not everyone is a salesperson, but we can learn from them. In fact, many people who wear a “sales” title are not really salespeople. In Bob’s case, he was more of a consultant, forced to sell in a way that was out of his comfort zone. It wasn’t working, he was tarnishing his reputation, and he went from loving his job to loathing the company he worked for. Eventually he quit, feeling as if he’d failed. He was put in a position where he couldn’t win. At least not without a change in perspective.
LET’S LEARN FROM BOB
There’s a lot we can learn from Bob’s experience. Pressuring a buyer is not the way to generate sales success. Bob was put in a difficult position, but he also lost sight of what it means to serve a client. Fueled by desperation, he began alienating with his high-pressure sales approach. His previous sales success created a “buying environment.” Remember, people love to buy, but they hate being sold.
Bob was impacted by rejection, even though he was a seasoned pro. How can we learn from this and create a fresh perspective? First, don’t take rejection personally. That is the most critical step to having the mindset needed to be productive, while also feeling fulfilled. In fact, one of the best things you can do is embrace losses and negative reactions. Salespeople who track sales data understand that every “no” brings you much closer to a win. How can we really embrace rejection without getting our feelings hurt? For anyone in a revenue generation role, it’s time to embrace the sales metrics. Measurement really matters. Imagine knowing that 10% of your meetings would lead to a sale. How motivated would you be to keep setting meetings? If you track variables such as how many calls it takes to get a bid and how many bids it takes to get a win, you can start to celebrate the things that would otherwise frustrate you. The idea of cheering when someone is rude to you may seem preposterous, but it really can help you feel motivated and excited.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
In addition, just put yourself in the shoes of the other person. I cringe when I feel I’m being “sold” on a telephone call. It’s a normal reaction. Therefore, be empathetic and know that you need to focus on your point quickly and you can’t take it personally if they seem to be annoyed at your timing. You have seconds to get them interested and it’s likely you did catch them at a bad time. However, if you can get them engaged in the call, then you can break beyond any barrier that might have been put up. After all, we’ve established that it isn’t personal when they reject you. That same reaction they’re giving you could have gone to a co-worker, spouse, or any other person, depending on their frame of mind. Focus upon their needs and do what you can to get them engaged.
CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES
Be conscientious and focus on improving your craft, but also focus on celebrating small victories. Those small victories can be a nice conversation, as you’re building a relationship. Or a “next meeting” because they’re interested in your services or products. Maybe they ask you to pull pricing together on a project they’re considering. Perhaps it’s a returned voicemail. Whatever it is, these small victories often lead to big wins. After all, you don’t generally get handed a huge contract from one phone conversation or email. It typically doesn’t happen until you’ve earned their respect and trust. Celebrate the victories. In addition, celebrate the losses, because that means your next victory is one call, meeting, presentation, or email closer than it was before.
Being successful in business development requires persistence and thoughtful follow through. It’s hard to do either if you let yourself feel beat down by the process or the job. If you’re having one of those days where you feel like you’re taking a beating, take a break from the phone and focus on some planning or review your metrics. If you need to clear your head, do so, but come back knowing those metrics are your key to success. Collect as many small victories as you are able. Small victories turn into large ones. If you keep track and learn to laugh at the losses, you’ll find that you can supercharge your productivity. Don’t get me wrong, no one enjoys losing. So don’t… Focus on the victories and recognize any losses as “necessary steps” to achieving those wins.
If you embrace some of the strategies, your business development and sales duties will become fun and exciting. It worked for me and for countless other sales professionals who have instituted a similar philosophy. Tony Robbins, world-renowned coach, refers to “states” and how they impact our productivity. Your state of mind often determines your outcome. Verbal language and body language impact how you perform. If you talk about how horrible your day was, you’re likely to have another one and another one. If you talk about being overwhelmed or having your head under water, it’s unlikely you’re going to get yourself out from underneath it with ease. In sales, your “state” is one of the most critical elements. Let the losses or frustrations define you, and you’re destined to continue to face that more often than others. Bob fell into this trap and struggled to break free.
You may not be a salesperson, and that’s okay. These strategies apply to anyone focused upon revenue generation. Above I referenced body language. Another success strategy is to learn to read body language and interpret non-verbal intelligence. I highly recommend you follow David M. Schneer, Ph.D.. He’s a friend, mentor, and an incredible teacher who will help you learn to read non-verbal cues. Do you think Bob needed to learn to read the people he was alienating?
You probably know someone who is in sales, and they never seem to be impacted by the negativity. They quickly dismiss things, or they jump right back into the saddle after a negative experience. These people tend to be very productive. Others might equate it to “being lucky” with the accounts they have, or they’re seen as optimistic. It might be the latter, but more than anything that optimism never lets them fall into an unproductive state. If they do fall into one, they probably get out of it quickly. Remember your “state” needs to be defined by the positive experiences instead of the negative ones. Imagine if Bob had remembered these points?
I challenge you to try and change your way of thinking for a week and see what a difference it makes. Focus on positive language, celebrate small victories, track your metrics, and celebrate the losses and frustrations. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes if you can hang up from a phone or ZOOM call stating an enthusiastic “YES!” with both the negative and positive calls. Remember that you’re going to have bad calls and face rejection just like Bob. Today Bob collects small victories until they turn into the big wins. If you can keep that same mindset and you’ll never lose. Not everyone is a salesperson, but everyone can win at “selling.”
For additional questions, or to schedule a complimentary coaching session on how you can leverage effective selling techniques as a pathway to maximize potential and transform for a balanced, happier and impactful life, please email me at email@example.com