Avoiding certain sales attitudes
One of my biggest sales challenges is overcoming my impatience. I have a naturally busy mind, and doing two things at once generates enthusiasm and energy for me. As a result, I easily fall into the trap of poor listening and over-anticipating people’s needs or questions, and also filling in the blanks for people.
It’s not that having a busy mind is a bad thing, but listening is so very critical to closing a sale with any particular customer and setting the table for the next sale/visit. I can easily justify my approach, but that doesn’t make it right. In all cases, better listening is better. It’s not that one sales approach is right and another wrong, it’s just that better is better.
Because I’m aware of my tendencies, I have to make conscious adjustments during sales-type exchanges. I’d like to touch on some common tendencies to avoid in sales or sales-type conversations.
1. Complacency: We all go through periods where we become complacent, and then caring or real engagement drops off. This is extremely dangerous. Customers and clients are seeking the best solutions to their needs, and they will bolt if they feel you are indifferent to their situation. You may not be intentionally complacent, but that doesn’t matter. For positive results, you must engage, engage and engage. You must be ruthless with yourself when it comes to complacency; pull it out by the roots.
2. Poor listening: As a sales person, understanding a customer’s immediate needs is so very critical. You may be engaging with a repeat customer and assuming that you are listening because you have a past framework from which you are working. Customers’ situations change; people lose their jobs or have financial reversals, health and family issues, job stress, or any variety of circumstances that alter their immediate needs. Listening, listening with empathy and listening to understand is important time and time again. One of my favorite sayings is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When you care, you listen; when you’re listening, you’re caring.
3. Impatience: When I’m engaging with a person(s) who I’m selling or persuading, I hold conversations with myself in my head. I’m consistently evaluating body language, facial expressions, voice inflections, etc. I consider myself a serious sales person, and winning means closing the sale and meeting the customer’s needs.
I really get into selling. When I’m in sales mode, an excitement breaks out, an internal enthusiasm takes over, and I start racing to the finish line. This is when I tell myself to slow down and allow the sale to come to me.
4. Feeling stuck: There is a natural tendency to end up feeling stuck in any sales-type position. Because selling has an emotional twist to it, every engagement has a sense of win or lose. Therefore, it can be rather draining, especially if you have had a string of recent, unsuccessful engagements.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” If you are feeling stuck and in a sales slump, then try something different; it’s better to strike out swinging. I like to change my style just to keep it fresh. I like to play the concierge — being extra helpful with options. I like to play the expert — with more than enough information and specific recommendations.
Analyze your mistakes
It stands to reason you would want to avoid mistakes, but I’m talking about learning from your mistakes. A simple analysis of a failed sale will help you change tactics. Like I said earlier, circumstances change with individual retail customers and/or with local business clients. Assuming the sale can be a big mistake if customers/clients are looking for fresh answers and solutions. Sales improve when mistakes are avoided.
Unproductive attitudes creep in, they are unavoidable; any and all sales persons are susceptible. However, you must not allow them to linger; you must take these attitudes and kick ’em to the curb. Immediately replace them with genuine customer-centric/counter intelligence approaches that lead to professional and productive results that generate happy customers and a happy you! ■
Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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