If I make a mistake even a big one, as I’m typing this article, I can simply select the text, delete it and then correct it.
You don’t always have that ability in sales. If you make a mistake, you can easily lose a sale or perhaps even an account. Let’s look at two natural human qualities that can diminish your sales success unless you understand them and control them properly. They are:
- The inability to see the world from another person’s perspective, and
- The desire to be in power.
I’ll go into more details in a minute, but let me take just a few more words to “set the table.”
To a greater or lesser degree, we believe that other people think like us. We project our views and feelings on those around us and when contradictions arise, we get confused and that can lead to conflict.
Further—and this is especially evident in professional sales—we like to control situations. I don’t know anyone who relishes the feeling of being out of control. As I’ll explain in a moment, in sales today being in control is harder than ever…if not downright impossible much of the time.
Are you crazy?
When we discover that people hold views entirely different than our own, sometimes our reaction can be as strong as thinking, “Is that person crazy?”
For example, whether you’re a Clinton or Trump supporter, a third-party proponent, or just undecided at this point, you probably have a hard time understanding how anyone could be on “the opposite side of the fence” than yourself.
My example, given today’s polarized political climate, is admittedly rather extreme, but our inability to empathize with others is always a problem, although sometimes not as huge as the chasm that separates political views today…fortunately!
However, your success in sales directly correlates to your ability to see the world and problems from another person’s point of view. This means that you must develop the ability to set your preconceived notions aside when you are working with your prospects and clients.
Science fiction stories sometimes feature shapeshifters. Beings who are able to quickly assume new forms. If you combined that superpower with the superpower of being able to understand and communicate the strengths of your products or services, you might be the perennial top salesperson. (Assuming the shape you shifted to matched that of your prospects!)
When losing power is gaining power
Your desire to wield power in a sales relationship is natural. But in the Internet Information Age, it’s almost impossible to achieve today, unless you have a monopoly…or an illegal price-fixing cabal that could get you thrown in jail.
In sales, as in many other relationships, the free flow of information over the Internet has empowered buyers. This is flagrantly on display with “showrooming,” where consumers will examine merchandise in a local store while they are doing price comparisons online via a mobile device. And although it’s not as blatant in business-to-business sales, it’s still there.
I’m making this point because it’s critical that sales professionals appreciate the fact that they can’t just power their way into sales. To meet the sales goals they desire to achieve, they need to recognize the power of the prospect and use that power to their advantage, much the same way students of the martial arts use the strength and momentum of their opponents to win matches.
In the Eastern martial arts, you generally take your opponents movement and go with it, not against it. In sales, you can use your ability to serve and wisely advise to go with the “momentum” of your clients. If your clients see you as helping them go in the direction they are headed, you will become a trusted advisor, not a salesperson.
Do you see how this is related to the first point I made? You need to really understand how your client is thinking and feeling before you can offer the level of advice that will earn you this kind of trust. You’ve probably heard the saying, “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This is the kind of attitude you need to defeat in yourself.
You may not always have the ideal solution to solve the problems that your clients are facing. When this happens, understand that your clients will get the information they need without you (if they don’t already have it) to find the better solution. Be sure you offer that information to them first. That will go a long way toward establishing your relationship with them.