Why Don't Sales People Ask?
BY MICHAEL SCHOETTLER
Many people think being shy is just a stage kids go though. It is just a healthy bit of fear around strangers or strange situations that will keep a youngster close to their parents. Parents believe that a bit of caution around strangers is not a bad idea and more than a few have even encouraged it. Our educators thought this was such a good idea that thousands of Australian school kids were sensitized by the “Stranger – Danger” campaign in an attempt to keep them safe by reducing their trust in strangers.
How long were you shy? Are you still shy?
I remember one father told me his little girl is not shy but said, “It will take her a few minutes to get to know you and then you will wish she was still shy”
Her dad understood what the psychologists call the “Fundamental Attribution Error”. Malcolm Gladwell explained this in his book “The Tipping Point” by describing it as “… a fancy way of saying that when it comes to interpreting other people’s behaviour, human beings invariably make the mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of the situation and context.”
If someone saw you briefly while you were being introduced to a group of senior executives from your firm’s largest client, could they think you were a bit reserved? Or would they understand that this was an unusual situation and was not your typical behaviour? According to the “FAE”, people will assume that what they saw is your normal behaviour. You can say that this is not “fair” but you need to understand that it is just the way people behave. I’ll bet some of your judgements are made the same way.
The first stage of many sales and negotiating meetings open with both sides attempting to build rapport. We want to make friends, be liked, or gain approval and hope that this will facilitate the process that follows. It is generally believed that people prefer to deal with people they like so most of us will try to gain the advantage of being liked. But how far will people go in this effort?
If you judge this by our deference to celebrities or sports stars, some fans will go to almost any length and it generally gets them nowhere. Similarly an “over the top” effort with people will earn more suspicion than appreciation. Most of us leaned in school that when people go to great lengths trying to impress someone, they often only earn their disdain. We understand that being a doormat is not likely to earn you any friends because it destroys their respect for you.
But rapport building is just the first stage. There is still the rest of the process where we will seek to establish needs and wants, qualify capacity, increase desire, establish authority, outline the process, build commitment to change, and construct a plan that satisfies all these points. But in many cases clients report that after most of the hard work is done, a representative will decide to end the meeting without asking for a decision.
Sales managers commonly see this as a failure resulting from a fear of rejection and some believe that this is the biggest problem their team faces. So why do well meaning people sometimes get to the end of a presentation and fail to ask for a commitment?
Enlarged Approval Gland
RxSales is an expert performance system and uses an online diagnostic tool called the CheckUp to uncover opportunities to increase sales. It reveals that many sales professionals suffer from what they call an Enlarged Approval Gland. They say, “This is a malady that afflicts sales professionals who have taken people pleasing to an addictive level (and) it can curb their success by as much as 25%”.
These people never stop building rapport and are so focused on making sure that people like them that they have a problem asking the questions that will actually produce a result. How much value is produced from the meeting when there is no result and the original problem is just left hanging? What they don’t see is that their clients will come to realize that meeting with them does not produce a result. They are seen to be likeable time wasters who will ultimately loose their access to the prospects they worked so hard to please.
There are times you should be asking the direct questions to deliver the change people sometimes try to avoid or postpone. When it is in everyone’s interest to get to a decision and move on, will some people who depend on you decide that you are still a bit shy?
About the Author
Michael Schoettler is a professional speaker and educator who helps people to use negotiation and sales skills to build profitable relationships. With an MBA in International Management and over 25 years in Sales he has the power to move audiences to action.
For program details or more articles, contact Mike on:
Phone: 02 9553 0909 Fax: 02 9553 1620
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