Are your sales people Alsatians or Chihuahuas?


by Ron D’Andrea


The conversation gets tense. Money becomes the focus of the conversation. Both sides know that this is the moment of truth, either the sale will happen or it won‘t. The buyer has the power and knows it. The sales person is at his/her most vunerable. This situation occurs thousands of times a day globally and can be pivotal to a business‘ future.

Sales people often feel uncomfortable. They know the risk is high, they have a sales target to meet, and there is a sizable commission hanging in the balance. It may be that the entire organization is depending upon this sale to survive.

This moment creates a visceral, physical reaction. Tension rises because the body senses a risk, a chance for real loss or harm, and our DNA kicks in. There is a physiological response to this tension — this is called “Fight or Flight.” Our bodies are genetically wired to protect us from harm, and the Fight or Flight response occurs in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus — which, when stimulated, initiates a series of nerve firings and chemical responses that prepares our body to deal with the danger.

Some people move into Fight mode, becoming louder, tougher, even aggressive in their desire to win the business. Others revert to flight, doing and agreeing to whatever the other party wishes just to get the business.

Unfortunately, neither is right nor produces the desired result. Fight often loses the business as the potential customer refuses to sign under pressure (do you know that over 40% of potential deals never get closed?). Flight often enables the business to close, but at what cost? The sales person may rejoice but may realize with further reflection that to provide the service or product will cost the company.

So how can your sales people NOT be impacted at this moment? How can they construct a productive dialogue so that the needs of both sides are surfaced, prioritized and met? How can they use the inevitable tension, like an athlete or singer does, to enhance their performance? How can they improve their ability to know what to say and how to say it to bring something new, to focus on value and ROI, not what appears to be the cheapest up front cost?  

The answer is quite simple really. Plan for the the dialogue before it begins. Prepare for typical questions, objections and concerns and know the best way to answer them. Work out what that particular client might value MORE than the cost.

Also, know when to walk away. When business just isn‘t worth it, shake hands and remain friends. The client may opt for a competitor who is cheaper than you today, but you never know what may happen tomorrow.

Understand which response (fight or flight) is most comfortable for you, and then devise a plan that enables you to be effective – not safe, not familiar – but effective.

This is all common sense (at least to us it is) but it will produce tangible results that can be tested and measured. And when you hit upon a couple of nuggets it will change the way you do business, the relationship you have with key clients and seriously impact the future of your business.

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