Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Why Are We Reluctant? Conflict


You are probably interested in a lot of things. You probably have knowledge about your product, especially if you moved over to sales from another role within the same industry. 

The best salespeople I know are jacks-of-all-trades, dilettantes, students of the world, and they enjoy using that wide collection of interests to connect with people.

Those of us raised in the last 25-50 years probably came away from childhood with the ethic that we should want to help people, too. Reach out, include others, be helpful.  

So now you have all the components to be a terrific seller.

With all these skills and knowledge and desire to help, something still holds you back.  Why do you not pick up the phone and offer some curiosity and knowledge toward another who would want to compensate you for the effort? There are a myriad of reasons and we all struggle with them in different proportions.

We don't like conflict.

As buyers, we have likely had poor experiences with overly-aggressive salespeople so we don’t want to be seen as someone who is aggressive to a fault and make people we talk with wish they’d missed the elevator.  

We don’t want to be in situations where people are putting up their defenses when they see a salesperson approaching. Who would volunteer to walk into a defensive crowd? That is a terrible idea.

It is rational to never

You are probably interested in a lot of things. You probably have knowledge about your product, especially if you moved over to sales from another role within the same industry. The best salespeople I know are jacks-of-all-trades, dilettantes, students of the world, and they enjoy using that wide collection of interests to connect with people.

Those of us raised in the last 25-50 years probably came away from childhood with the ethic that we should want to help people, too. Reach out, include others, be helpful.  

You have all the components to be a terrific seller.

With all these skills and knowledge and desire to help, something still holds you back.  Why do you not pick up the phone and offer some curiosity and knowledge toward another who would want to compensate you for the effort? There are a myriad of reasons and we all struggle with them in different proportions.

As buyers, we have likely had poor experiences with overly-aggressive salespeople so we don’t want to be seen as someone who is aggressive to a fault and make people we talk with wish they’d missed the elevator.  

We don’t want to be in situations where people are putting up their defenses when they see a salesperson approaching. Who would volunteer to walk into a defensive crowd? That is a terrible idea.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

How do you end up in sales if you’re reluctant?

It’s not as hard to find yourself in sales. Salespeople in particular, and business growth in general, are both in hot demand. All sectors and industries need growth. Even governments are in a business of providing service to its citizens or attracting businesses and new residents to its communities. That means they all need sellers to communicate benefits and seek out new opportunities.

You might want to start your own business because you’re passionate about your trade or skillset or research, but that means you have to put yourself out beyond your comfort zone. You’re going to need to learn some sales skills to bring in clients, investors and employees so you can share your vision with them.

In other cases, you start a business intending to have a separate salesperson or team, and they don’t work out. As the one with the passion, you realize the best person to sell your product or idea is you.

Perhaps as a scientific person who understands programming code deeply, or the chemistry of a new product, and you’re asked to go out with the traditional sales team as a technical expert. You find yourself working on proposals and deals more than the technical product now.

Your role at work might have shifted or expanded so you are expected to do more convincing than you initially trained for. Maybe you move up to management, or maybe into a partner role where even though “business development” is a more civilized term at cocktail parties and Rotary meetings, you’re selling.

Maybe a spouse takes on a new business because they have a valuable set of skills, but you see it will fail if you don’t get out there and network some additional contacts for them. You could pitch in, make a few calls and help out your sweetie.

As young person, you might have looked at the job market and did the rational calculation that you could make $8.00 per hour as a waiter, or you could try something with commission. The bigger upside potential offsets a little risk, so you dive in.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

A Modern Vision for Salespeople

Being a salesperson doesn't have to feel icky. You don't have to be embarrassed. If you wore red polyester pants and white shoes... maybe you'd have reasons, but if you're out helping your clients, you have a lot to be proud of.

The old stereotype of salespeople being "pushy" or "slick" is just bad for business in the modern world. 

It is vital that we who sell change the public’s view of sales because businesses need more sellers. And it turns out that the people who are generally the best at the modern sales skills, such as transparent communications and emotional intelligence, are often the ones who are the least attracted to the old sales stereotypes.

It’s easy to find ourselves in sales, but our performance is limited by the negative emotional resistance to being seen as a seller. Effectively, we’re undermining ourselves in a sub-conscious effort to avoid the adopting the negative stereotypes others have of sales. This self-sabotage is insidious because it’s not always obvious. Recognizing the symptoms requires a certain self-awareness that can feel really uncomfortable. If you’re doing it right, it’s not enough to examine this reaction once. You have to keep opening that cage of demons over and over and keep challenging yourself to be self-aware.

We can achieve more for our clients and for ourselves when we look within to understand what holds us back, and see beyond the stereotypes to recognize what we are really capable of bringing to our clients.

So often sellers find themselves in a role without all the specifics to manage their day, or manage their clients, or manage the surprising emotional landscape of selling. Salespeople wash out of roles far too quickly, primarily because training is lacking. If they get technical training on the products, or sales tactics training, the emotional burden of trying to sell is often ignored by managers. But there is a way forward...

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Don't Be Reluctant to Sell

Don't Be ReluctantSelling has a negative connotation that polite people don’t want to be associated with. They think to be a good seller you have to be pushy, or slick, and talk too much or trick people.

When I approach prospects from a position of helpfulness and curiosity about their business, I become a lot more comfortable with my role, and the client became a lot more comfortable with me. As soon as I relaxed and turn it into a conversation about their business, we became partners and I stopped “selling.”

I needed to build a certain amount of structure around me and the emotional factors that can be overwhelming or debilitating. As salespeople, we can learn to become more resilient to those emotional triggers that can disincentivize you from engaging in productive sales conversations, insulate your inner self from certain kinds of rejections, and put together a thoughtful, systematic toolkit to get, and stay, productive.

I hear a lot of people holding themselves back when they are in roles where they have to go out and connect with people. They are reluctant. Don't be reluctant.

Salespeople on our staff have been unwilling to make the calls or couldn’t actually see that what they were not doing was affecting their performance. This is frustrating to both the seller and their managers. Small business owners have a sales function, and sometimes, that lack of action, because it is emotionally uncomfortable, can derail a business that otherwise had a good chance.

If you are willing to look within, you can overcome many of the mental speedbumps and hang-ups that undermine a salesperson’s performance, and push beyond what people expect from a salesperson. 

Learning to recognize when a buyer offers an objection as a simple worry vs. a negotiating tactic defines the difference between sellers with lots of healthy business, and sellers who are being run-around by clients. We’ll cover the checklist to help you evaluate when it is time to double-down, and when it’s smart to walk away.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Objections

All objections boil down to "I'm not sold."

They have to see the value whether we're selling advertising or couches. And value is a bit different for everyone.

I'm not sold. You can see the buyer, arms crossed, considering the sales pitch he just heard and not moving forward. Why? Look at all these features! And the lights or the plush upholstery, we say, piling on. He's not leaving so we still have a chance. Though clearly these do not have enough value to him. But wait, there's more!

Our job as salespeople is to clear them up and clear them out. Make the value clear for the buyer to see.

Do they want more features? Almost never.
Maybe easier payments? Possibly.

Some do and some don't. The secret is that value to each buyer is different from the last buyer. And it's up to us to find out what this buyer values.

I have agencies who want value-added which means free ads added onto their contract. They will not argue with me about the $60 rate but they will argue with me about how many FREE ads they get. They don't see the value of the audience: they only value winning the argument. Other clients are looking to me for fresh ideas and expect me to come up with their whole campaign. Others think I'm insulting them when I offer suggestions on revising messaging to fit our audience.

The objection they put up before committing tells you a lot about who they are and what they value in this transaction.

It's easy to feel stymied when an objection comes your way in a sales presentation. Objections are really our friends. They tell us salespeople what keys will work in this lock. And they're not always logical.

"It's too expensive" --> "Too expensive compared to what?" They are telling you they did not think what you offered (in my case, audience, or in other cases, cars or consulting services) created enough value for the dollars. Break it down by smaller units or sometimes it even works to compare the return on their investment to the cost of their own products they are selling customers. One restaurant complained about $15 ads and I pointed out he has a $15 hamburger on his menu. We agreed if the 100 ads brought in 100 new customers he would buy another set of ads. He had the biggest month to date after starting and happily bought more ads the next month. Get to that underlying point of comparison and bring them over to your point of comparison.

"It's too much commitment" --> This is someone who lacks confidence in their future. Point out the ways they have flexibility in that, point out the benefits of booking now or the costs of booking on short-term agreements (those should always be more expensive, BTW). But the underlying issue here is that this client doesn't know what the future will bring. Look for ways to either help them them build that moat or steady supply of customers, or look for someone above them. I get this a lot with middle managers who really don't have as much approval power as they said they did.

Add objections you've heard in the comments below and we'll workshop them. The objection they say is rarely the objection they are feeling.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

In Praise of Resisting Ideas

Workshopping new writing is exciting. I was thrilled to share my first piece recently with my writers' workshop and a few friends. But, from that, I gained some insight into why writers isolate themselves and protect their stories before they are done.

I put my story out there. I dared to share it before it was fully baked, and then my story stopped being my own.

They were not into all the things I had been thinking about and worrying over. Naively, I expected my early readers to help me evaluate if my characters felt real or seemed consistent throughout the story. I wanted them to be analytical about story structure. I had debated mightily over transitions and dialog and descriptions, and I wanted very much to know if others cared about them as much as I did or felt any kind of connection with what I created.

Generally, the comments were warm and supportive. I enjoyed where others picked up on a joke or appreciated a specific line. A few were insightful and pointed out inconsistencies that were helpful. I might have hoped for more depth, but I received enough encouragement to have more confidence in my story. It's the most you could expect, and I'm grateful.

But, there were two comments out of the two dozen that rankled me, and now I can't un-hear them. I find myself wishing that I hadn't gotten any comments if it meant I could have avoided these two.

One suggested that...

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Themes of Trust and Loss

We lost our cat in September.

She was a sweet kitty but deeply damaged. She couldn't fully trust us so when she got out, we didn't have the tools that connect beings to one another so we could attract her back to us. She had no name. Wouldn't allow a collar on. We couldn't hold her long enough to get her to a vet for appropriate shots or a chip.

Instead, we operated a two-state system where she cautiously joined us at family-time but reserved the right to run away at any moment. Of our part, we tip-toed into attempts to connect with her knowing we might get our hands scratched or not see her again for three days. She could not trust. And we didn't know how to operate without it.

The trust we wanted her to take from us was inflated and unreasonable given who she was. I understood she had been through some trauma and wanted so keenly to help her. It turns out I wanted to feel good by helping her. There was a basic misunderstanding on my part. I couldn't have

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Winner Winner! NaNoWriMo Dinner!

I took up fiction writing this Fall and had a very validating experience writing within the NaNoWriMo program in November.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) tells me they are "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing." And it offered just enough structure and support to be encouraging, with very few restrictions to keep me from doing the work.

I trained as a journalist in college because even though I was always a solid writer in school, the creative projects filled me with fear. I chose journalism because it came with a comforting collection of rules: a specific assignment, length or word count, audience, style guides. There was always an editor who would call me out for going in the wrong direction.

In broadcast, I had to write for the specific anchor or announcer to read it properly; some people love alliteration and others will try to have you fired for making them look dumb on air. So there's always a filter, a ninja course to run through.

I thrived when I had to write within specific formats and under deadlines. I would discover ways to be clever with a headline or a turn of a phrase, specific word counts or space limitations. I then used the rules from one format to quickly adapt to others: from broadcast to social media to sales manuals.

The idea of a big, white piece of paper glaring at me and demanding creativity from me has always been too inhibiting. I was intimidated as a writer by the lawlessness of fiction ...

Friday, February 2, 2018

Why is happiness so elusive?

I have everything modern society has promised us short of a flying car. I have a strong, conscious marriage, a healthy child who has access to ideas and mentors, clean air, technology to reduce labors and increase entertainment. I'm well-educated and free to move about, and express my opinions. We have plenty of income, few debts, no crippling diseases or unfortunate habits. I have skills that are valuable and no significant moral dilemmas.

But a cloud remains. I can't seem to shake these persistent demons that simply ruin everything.

The source of un-happiness seems to come packed in four main boxes.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Come ON clients! Sales reps are people, too! Be decent to each other.

I sell advertising for a living. It's great on many days, good for many more days, but those bad days can be downright demoralizing. The reason is consistently because our clients and prospects think it is OK to lie to us.  

Some salespeople are annoying. And some of us--like me--are trying to help your business grow. But we're all people at the end of the day. This might be news, but salespeople have feelings, too. 
 
Here are a few things salespeople wish our clients and our prospects would not do because it's simply bad for business.

You may not always know what's going on, and it's ok to tell us. 

Don't make something up. Don't ignore our calls and emails until you have an answer. Just be honest.