'I'll have the chicken, please,' said the timid salesman

June 7, 2010
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Salespeople want to make sales — and for the most part feel alone in the process.

One of the challenges all salespeople face is: What's the best way? What are the ways, the paths, the words and the actions that will lead to the promised land — the sale?

The one path that all salespeople want to avoid is the one that leads to "no." Better known in the business as rejection, salespeople will go to great lengths to avoid "no." Sometimes — many times — they will actually lose the sale by avoiding a situation where "no" is a possibility.

Note well: I'm trying to be nice and write this in the third person, so as not to make you feel less than whole. But these conditions in the main refer to and apply to you. And I recommend that as you read this, you take specific notes as to how you can improve the weaknesses I'm addressing.

In no particular order, here are the grim reality bites of actions you will and won't take in order to avoid "no":

  • Trying to please everyone without following the fundamental rules of salesmanship.

  • Giving a proposal without demanding an exact time and place for a face-to-face follow-up meeting to go over it with all decision makers.

  • Not asking to change or modify the terms of a bid or a proposal that would put you in a more favorable condition (years in business, video testimonials to prove your claims, financial worth).

  • Failing to get to a decision maker for fear of going around or over the person you're meeting with. Sometimes you won't go over someone's head because you have nothing of value to give them other than your sales pitch.

  • Not starting higher up the ladder on a sale, because you're afraid to go beyond your comfort level of sales.

  • Accepting the first "no" or "I'm not interested" as the final answer and then leaving, rather than trying to be rejected three or four times in the same call.

  • Calling reluctantly on cold calls instead of being prepared with a value message and confidence based on deep belief that the customer is better off having purchased from you.

  • Calling reluctantly on follow-up because you don't want to be rejected. Reality: you have nothing of value to say or offer and just want the money.

  • Having five big customers but no ideas on why to call them other than to ask for more business, thus missing an opportunity that your competitor grabs.

  • Not calling to confirm an appointment for fear it will be canceled — because you have given no perceived value.

  • Not leaving a voice mail. You "know" your call won't be returned because you have/had nothing of value to say.

  • E-mailing when you should call and wondering why it goes unreturned — or worse, unopened.

  • Phoning or e-mailing when you should visit. You think it's "safe," when in reality it's delaying the sale.

  • Taking the wrong approach — looking for pain, because you don't understand any other way. Why not look for pleasure?

  • Not using testimonials as final proof.

And then there are the 4.5 game-changing elements of a sale that require your courage and intestinal fortitude. (Also known as having the guts to do, say or pull it off.)

  1. You won't demand to be in on the final meeting — where the decision is really made.

  2. You won't call an angry customer back — and pass the complaint off to someone else, making the customer even angrier.

  3. You will let accounting handle collections — and damage your relationship.

  4. You won't have the guts to tell someone "no" when the situation just won't work.

    4.5 You won't do what's best for the customer — offer a different product, a different service, even a different company, because you're afraid to lose a sale or a commission.

Salespeople develop the following "chicken" habits as they mature (or immature) in their career, based on their actions and reactions, and the actions and reactions of others:

  • Walk on eggshells so as not to offend.

  • Get stepped on and pushed aside by prospects.

  • Take it on the chin from all people all the time.

  • Try to mirror instead of harmonize.

  • Are scared to lose the sale (money), rather than doing the right thing and helping the customer.

  • Are scared to ask for the sale for fear of rejection.

  • Think they're alone in the selling process.

  • Ask for referrals rather than earning them.

Well, that's enough evidence for you to change out of your chicken suit and put on some designer clothes. Look the part, act the part, prove the part and you'll get the part — and the order.

Free Git-Bit: I have three more things that will help you change your chicken habits and earn your wings. Go to www.gitomer.com and enter the words CHICKEN HABITS in the Git-Bit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com

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