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.