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Preventing The Buyer’s Auto-Reflex-Salesperson-Resistance Mode

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by Mike on March 8, 2011

It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause it. The waters were poisoned way before you got here. Other morons messed it up for us and we get to live with the consequences.

Prospects (buyers) have an automatic, almost instinctive reflex reaction to salespeople. And it’s not a positive one. You know exactly what I’m referring to because you respond the same way – even if you’re in sales! Think back to your last visit to a furniture store. What thoughts went through your head as the clipboard carrying salesman approached? Or when the telemarketer launched into his script after mispronouncing your name? And that last agonizing webinar where the salesperson must have known what was best for you because he didn’t ask one meaningful question and seemed fine with presenting at you for 40 minutes.

So we agree, many have gone before us and given prospects plenty of good reasons to resist salespeople. I contend that while it’s not our fault, it certainly is our problem.

We know that automatic resistance is there so pretending it’s not a factor is silly or naive. It’s our responsibility to plan and prepare for it. I’ve been coaching several sales teams on key telephone skills and sharpening their “sales stories.” The idea for this post is a result of several sessions where I worked with salespeople to stop sounding like product-pushers. Since we know that prospects (for good reason) reflexively put up the STOP sign when they hear, smell or perceive an incoming sales pitch, wouldn’t it make sense for us to do everything possible to NOT come across that way?

We can prevent or overcome the buyer’s negative reflex response to a salesperson’s approach.

Mindset: Problem-solver or Pitchman? – How you view your job makes a huge difference in your approach to potential customers. Do you see yourself as a professional problem-solver who exists to bring value to clients? Is your goal to make their lives, jobs or businesses better? Do you believe deep down that your prospect is better off working with you and your company than they’d be if they didn’t?  I hope the answer to these questions is “yes.” Your mindset about your job has a huge impact on how you’re perceived. And I guarantee the people you’re calling on sense it.

Lose the Sales Voice – I often see the most normal, likable people completely change their voice tone and cadence for telephone and face-to-face sales calls. I don’t know who taught them that or why they think they’re supposed to sound that way. But it kills them. The buyer smells it, instantly throws out the yellow caution flag and goes into avoidance mode. The sales voice does the opposite of what you want it to by putting the prospect on high alert that sales bombs are about to rain down. Most salespeople don’t even know when they do it, so I encourage you to have a colleague listen or sit in on a few calls to get an honest opinion. It’s very hard to coach yourself.

A Different Opening – Ever notice that almost everyone in sales starts a proactive telephone call the same way? Same phrases, same words as everyone else. Why is that? Laziness? Habit? My point is simple: If buyers auto-reflex with resistance to salespeople, then we should get creative and try not to sound like every other salesperson. Crazy, I know.

A Customer-focused Story - You can’t believe I am bringing up the sales story again. Again. It can’t be helped. It ties in perfectly to this whole argument. Prospects don’t care what we do. They only care what we can do for them. In the first few sentences that come out of our mouths, the buyer is determining if we “get it” that it’s not about us. It may not even be a conscious decision on their part. They hear you talk about what you offer or why your company is great and, presto, you’re immediately lumped in the pile with every other self-focused salesperson they try to avoid. Want to lower their resistance shield? Try leading with the pains/problems/issues you solve for customers. The difference in their response will blow your mind.

I implore you to ponder these four points for a minute. I usually try not to come off as preachy, but in this case, well, I am preaching! So many salespeople shoot themselves in the foot because they have no clue how they’re coming across to prospects. It’s not that they can’t sell. It’s that they don’t get the opportunity to because the buyers go into salesperson resistance mode.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kris Perkins March 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Preach on brother!

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Maureen Blandford March 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Fabulous mindset reminder, Mike!

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Mike March 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Welcome Kris & Maureen. Thanks for the kind words and positive feedback.
I am continually surprised how many salespeople are unaware how they are perceived by buyers — and am committed to doing my part to stop it!
Mike

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Tim March 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Mike you are right on the money. I have paid attention to my “sales” voice and have noticed an immediate impact. People open up long enough to catch the sales story when they think they are talking to a friend!

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Mike March 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Tim! Thanks for reading and sharing your insight. It is awesome that you caught yourself using a sales voice – it can be deadly. I love the way you put that: “people open up long enough to catch the story” — and our job is get them to open up.

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JB Bush March 10, 2011 at 12:56 am

Mike,

Referred to you through Uncle Paul C (we all strive to be a Rock Star). Good words here, my friend. Thanks for the insight, look forward to more!

Cheers,

JB

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Mike March 10, 2011 at 12:59 am

Thanks JB! I have learned a lot from Uncle Paul Castain and am honored for the referral from his fine site. Appreciate the nice words. To Rock Star status for us all :)

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Ben Shute March 14, 2011 at 2:30 am

Another great post Mike. Your point about a different opening is so valid.

I used to tell my team that if they have done their research, then they don’t need a script – just go with what feels right.

Amazed at how little variance there is.

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Todd September 6, 2012 at 4:20 am

I laughed out loud when I read about “the sales guy voice.” I’m totally guilty of that one. And here I was thinking that there were no new ideas in sales training. I like your realistic and fresh approach to the sales process. I stopped by Barnes and Noble tonight to buy the book and they were out. Let’s hope the one I go to tomorrow has it in stock. I’m looking forward to it.

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Mike September 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

Thanks for the comments Todd. Good to have you here and it’s fun to see you digging back into old posts. The last thing we want is for the prospect to lump us in the pile with all the other lame salespeople that have turned off buyers, wasted precious time, pulled the “show up and throw up” act on sales call, etc. The sales voice hurts us because it screams “salesperson” — and that isn’t helpful if we are trying to come across as value-creators and professional problem-solvers. I see a lot of salespeople that put on a sales voice and they don’t even know they are doing it. It’s not helpful.
Mike

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