How to Improve Your Effectiveness on Sales Calls

SQC smallProblem:  Stacy and her boss just couldn’t understand why she continued to struggle to make quota.  She was a very outgoing person who was extremely well liked by all her colleagues and her customers.  Stacy constantly went out of her way to be friendly to everyone and appeared to possess a good knowledge of both her product and the selling process.  Her failure to excel was confusing to everyone.

Analysis:  Stacy’s need for approval is preventing her from being as effective as she could be.   You know you have need for approval when your need to be liked is stronger than the need to close business.  This need to be liked is very common in the sales profession and causes the salesperson to be overly polite, to be accommodating even at the cost of giving away products and margin, and in extreme cases, to avoid any confrontation.  When this happens it prevents the salesperson from being effective as they could be because, they will unlikely ask the tough but important qualifying questions and will rarely risk testing a prospect’s commitment level before preparing a presentation.  More acute cases of this sales weakness cause salespeople to avoid hearing a “no” at all costs and to accept too many stalls and put-offs.  These salespeople unconsciously get paid in compliments rather than in dollars.  Extroverted people often suffer from this weakness as they value personal relationships greatly and loathe doing anything (such as asking for the business) to upset that relationship.

Solution:  Research suggests a salesperson with a need for approval will be about 35% less effective than someone without this major weakness.  Overcoming the need for approval can be a difficult problem but it can be overcome with proper reinforcement and commitment to change.  Here are several ideas to consider that will help to reduce the need for approval:

  • Be aware that selling is a highly paid profession to advance business goals, not a social event.  The purpose of sales interactions is to collect information about prospects by asking qualifying questions.  Selling is no place for meeting your personal needs (wanting to be liked and showing how much you know).
  • Remember that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you, says about you, or feels about you. The only two things that matter are that you have fun and get a qualified prospect to do business with you.
  • Get comfortable with hearing “no.”  “No” is an acceptable response when the prospect does not qualify to do business with you and you have done a good job asking questions to draw out the information you need.  Learn to help people say “no” rather than put you off.
  • Learn to ask the tough qualifying questions to get information you really need.  For example, it may not be comfortable to ask about money, details of the decision-making process or to test commitment, but you have to do it.
  • If you have a need to be liked, get that need fulfilled outside your role as a salesperson by volunteering at your church or for a non-profit or by serving on a committee at the chamber.
  • Remember in business, go for respect first and being liked second.  People will respect you by the questions you ask and the knowledge you share,

Remember this quote from the famous actor Bill Cosby, “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

Good Selling!!