“Don’t Want to Upset a Prospect? Join the Peace Corps.”
Our job in sales is to find problems. Our products & service solve them. We need to find them. Last time I checked finding problems requires us to ask questions.
Most salespeople ask the basic questions – the questions that need to be asked (technically). What they fail to do is ask the tough questions. Tough questions are uncomfortable. Tough questions are hard to ask. Tough questions could upset a prospect. That’s the whole point. Most prospects don’t pay money to “fix” something that is working & that is comfortable. They pay money to get out of trouble, to make their lives & jobs easier. Salespeople, you have to go the “the uncomfortable”.
In 2014, there is still a ridiculous stereotype of salespeople (the back-slapping, glad-handing, jolly ole salesperson). This salesperson loves people, smiles all the time, makes people laugh – everybody loves her. The problem comes when the salesperson believes this stereotype & behaves that way (back-slapping, glad-handing, jolly ole salesperson – Herb Tarlick comes to mind – WKRP in Cincinnati). It’s pretty hard to ask tough questions with a smile on your face. It’s not natural to uncover serious problems while you are telling jokes. It’s a fact, if you’re making friends in sales you’re not making money.
Now, this is not to say that you won’t develop a relationship with your clients – you probably will. But what comes first the relationship or the sale? Often, the salesperson tries to make friends in sales & she is successful. That’s the bad news. It’s easy to make friends. It’s a piece of cake to not “go there – it’s too uncomfortable”. Wrong move.
The world can always use more Peace Corps volunteers. There are plenty of bridges that are still not built. If it’s important for you to stay the nice guy or nice gal you should seriously consider joining the Peace Corps. If you are being out-sold & can’t figure out why take a good look in the mirror. Are you a nice guy/gal? Everybody’s friend?
I can’t tell you the number of nice salespeople I have met that would be a lot more successful with a hammer in their hand – building bridges.