Dissect anything and you’ll discover some important things and many insignificant things. That includes selling.
I don’t necessarily have sales DNA, but I’ve got a lifetime of sales experience so it sometimes feels like it’s DNA. Oh, and I’m naturally introverted. And there’s this – I do not think “salesman” is a derogatory label. I rather think selling can be noble (or not), like most things.
Simply put, selling is dialogue with a purpose. Ideally, the purpose is to serve the customer with something highly valuable. Valuable enough to warrant an exchange of money. Valuable enough that the amount of money paid by the customer is equal or less than the benefit they get from the thing. Valuable enough that the amount enables the provider (the seller) with the sustained ability to continue to deliver the value to customers now and in the future.
Dialogue is the keyword. Selling is a conversation. A give and take. Questions and answers. Understanding. Learning.
Selling is a dozen little things. Because it’s a conversation between two or more people it’s entirely focused on communication.
And this is where your impatience can wreck things. You begin to take shortcuts. You neglect the vital elements of human connection because you can’t help yourself. You need to make a sale. You want to make a sale. You grow fixated on what you want and forget the purpose of the dialogue – to serve the customer!
Do you have people in your life who call you and all you have to do is answer your phone…then they’re off to the races with what they want to say? Barely coming up for air?
Ten minutes into the conversation – well, to be accurate, it’s not a conversation…it’s a monologue – you’ve only said one word, “Hello.” Selling is a dialogue, not a monologue.
That person who calls you and dominates the conversation isn’t interested in hearing what you’ve got to say. They’re just looking for somebody who will endure listening to them. Do you really think your prospect is willing to endure that from you? Don’t kid yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about them. It’s only about you in the context of what’s in it for them. Remember the value exchange, the purpose of the dialogue.
Impatience can make you neglect all the little things necessary to give the prospect the opportunity to take advantage of your offer. Your brain kicks into a different place when you’re impatient. It defies logic and reason thinking, “The more I talk the more I’m likely to persuade them.” You get sucked into thinking that the blitzkrieg of information is the path to hearing them say, “Yes.” The moment just gets too big for some people because they’re selfish.
How can we harness our impatience when we’re selling?
One, remember the purpose.
To serve the customer. Period. Get that emblazoned on your brain before you enter the dialogue. Keep it there. It’s the bedrock of everything else you do.
Two, leverage the purpose to drive the conversation.
Think of your closest friends or family members. Do they show interest in you? Yep. These people are genuinely interested in you and what’s going on with you. Plus, they’re genuinely interested in how they can help you. And you feel the same toward them.
Go into the sales conversation focused on the prospect. Be interested in them and in helping them. Avoid being presumptuous. “I’ve got the ideal solution for you,” is a presumption I’ve heard millions of times. Mostly from people who never asked me a single question. People who lacked any context to me or my business.
Use the conversation for context.
Three, be honest and direct.
I’m not sure if any business activity has more tactics or strategies. There are so many books, seminars, podcasts, trainers and speakers on the subject of selling…I don’t suppose we’ll ever hit a limit on them because somebody is always coming up with some new angle, new strategies, and tactics.
True confession: I’m not a sales tactic guy. I understand them. I know they can work. And I know we can talk people into or manipulate people. I’m not interested because I’ve always been a longterm player. I’m not transactional. There are very skilled transactional salespeople out there who are masters at acts of persuasion. They work every interaction to their advantage and are able to get a fair number of people to say, “Yes.” They’re like sales magicians.
I choose honesty. Directness.
Does it work every time? No. Nothing works every time. But here’s my sales pitch for honesty and directness. It feels right. I can hang up a phone, or walk out of an office or conference room without regret. And I can know that I attempted to fulfill my purpose for the dialogue – to serve them. It’s completely their right to reject my offer to serve them, but they don’t get to decide or influence my willingness to fulfill my goal. I’m in control of my willingness to serve them.
For example, I’ve had conversations with people who I honestly didn’t think would benefit from my services. I’ve looked people in the eyes and said, “I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about you and your company, and to share with you what I do and how I do it, but I think there are likely better choices for you.” It’s not a tactic. It’s the truth, as I believe it, based on what I’ve learned during our conversation.
A prospect asks about the timeframe for the work. The salesperson, anxious to land the deal, overpromises, knowing full well that the timeframe can’t be met, but is hopeful once the deal is done that he can work things out. Impatience is at work.
Directness might offer a different conversation. “I understand your timeframe is compressed. I’m confident that our team, working with your team, can expedite the execution of this project. I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep, but we’re prepared to commit ourselves and our resources to deliver the best outcome, but I want to make sure you know that we may not be able to hit that target date. Something that we’re not even considering could come up and bite us. I’d rather be honest with you and lose this opportunity than lie to you and get it.”
Tacticians will criticize. Let ’em. Deals built on hiding the truth or on lack of directness can cause more fretfulness than just about anything. I’ve been at this for decades and my own point of view is simple – it’s NOT WORTH IT. I can feel good about losing a deal because I was candid, honest and direct. I always feel bad when I get a deal because I wasn’t. So I don’t do it anymore. Truth is, I haven’t done it for many, many years. Thankfully, I learned that lesson pretty early in my career.
Four, do what you say when you say.
I have no idea why this is so hard except to know that impatience (selfishness) is at the heart of it.
People don’t call when they say they will. They don’t do many things they claim they’ll do. Or when they say they will.
Why commit to it then? Go back to the third thing – be honest and direct. “I’ll get that to you as soon as I’m able. It may be next week before I’m able to do that. Will that be okay?” That’s infinitely better than, “I’ll have that to you by tomorrow morning.” Then, you don’t.
Impatience hems us into committing to things because we think if we don’t, the prospect or customer will boot us. No wonder so many customers are dissatisfied and unhappy with their experience.
Make commitments carefully. Follow through on them.
Better to live by honesty and directness than to promise things you may not be able to do.
Consider what you say to prospects and customers as promises. So many times people don’t view them as the commitments they truly are. Big mistake.
Five, be gracious and thankful.
Impatience fuels a lack of gratitude. Resist.
Everybody enjoys being appreciated. Especially the people who give us their time and attention to have the conversation. Politeness and manners. It’s always appropriate to have them and use them. You’re without excuse if you neglect them. And I don’t care how rude or obnoxious the prospect may be. You’re not in control of their behavior. You control YOU. Do the right thing no matter what. All the time.
Opportunities don’t guarantee success. Or failure. All we can do is our best.
You’ll lose more than you’ll win, but that’s okay. The point is to get enough wins to keep playing. Stay in the game. Figure out how to win more often, even if it’s just a marginal improvement. Keep growing. Keep improving. Embrace the positive qualities necessary to fulfill the purpose of the conversations – to serve! Push your impatience aside because it won’t help you. And here’s a truth I find helpful.
Someone is waiting for you to show up to help them. Your job is to be persistent enough to find them.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!