If Enthusiasm were Contagious People would Love to be Sold
Sales people are always trying to crack through barriers that they perceive customers put up. However, a lot of the times these barriers are self-imposed. The way they sell, the way they position themselves and their offering, the way they assert themselves, and their indiscriminate follow-up are all major contributors to the quandary they are constantly finding themselves in. How come so few prospects and customers want to talk with them?
Classic sales people want to be in the thick of things. They want to be right. They do not want to be left on the sidelines. They want to be the pivotal catalyst of change for customers. They want to be in the swirl of excitement and action. Their primal need is to be proactively involved in pushing (pitching product), instead of pulling (asking questions and listening).
Classic sales people feel if they do not come across as excited and filled with enthusiasm about their offering they will appear weak, not believable, noncommitted and not to be taken seriously. Yet they do not realize that it is the messenger not the message that carries the day.
The messenger is best represented by a non-selling posture of unbiased insight and problem-solving skills to understand the full extent and ramification of the customer's priorities and problems.
I had a very insightful customer who had an "aha" moment in one of my training sessions. She said if enthusiasm were truly contagious then customers would love to be sold. But, unfortunately they do not. "Customers hate to be sold, but they love to buy," says Jeffrey Gitomer. Enthusiasm helps us get our self-centered sales points across, but has little impact in helping customers make better, informed buying decisions.
Conventional sales people use a sales strategy that I call "foregone conclusion selling." They position and ask questions that already pre-supposes the customer is interested, has actionable problems that need to be solved now, and wants to buy. It is not a practical and realistic strategy. As Confucius said, "When prosperity comes, do not use all of it."
Nothing is a foregone conclusion until the fat lady sings. When sales people sell as if they have a green light on everything they fail to get insider information and sell from an advisory position. The customer is learning a lot, but the sales person has stopped learning because they are no longer asking questions, and worse yet they feel they are unassailable. "In the sales process, slow down to speed up," says Bill Caskey.
The guiding light for the non-selling posture is everything is relative and nothing is carved in stone. One man's hell is another another's heaven. Quality is in the eye of the beholder. All goals and challenges are relative to all other goals and challenges. The value of one's offering is in direct proportion to the client's other alternatives and choices. That is it!
Traditional sales people have a very flimsy grip on relativity; If it is good for one it is good for all. They place misguided faith in only what their ears are reporting. Sales people who embrace the non-selling posture are not sentimental or romantic about their offering. They cut quickly through bone and gristle, pullout the still pumping heart, and hold it up for their customer to inspect. They get to the heart of the matter quickly.
Your posture and attitude should be no fuss no muss. The non-selling posture allows the sales person to be a centrist, always seeking a common ground and looking for common purposes.
The non-selling posture helps customers internalize their decision process. The traditional sales person focuses mostly on tangibles and external elements, and does not really get to the heart of the customer's decision process. The non-selling posture is about tough love and "professionally calling it the way you see it," while having the customer feeling secure and non-threatened.
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all," said Oscar Wilde. The non-selling posture is not for the faint of heart. It takes a real passion to put another's interests ahead of yours and then execute on it. The non-selling posture works because it is not forced, one is not trying too hard, is not contrived, it is genuine and authentic, it seeks first to understand before being understood and it has the impartiality of a trusted advisor. And just as importantly, it upholds the honor and dignity of its practitioners, and upholds the high standards of ethical conduct, integrity, trust and customer independence.
||Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.