No one really wants to talk to a salesperson. I have never said to either of my children “I hope you become a salesperson.” I have said “entrepreneur,” which is code for salesperson, but they’ll figure that out later.
When we interact with our prospects, they have certain expectations of how a salesperson should behave. Those expectations usually fall into “order taker” or “servant.” They expect salespeople to do what they say, when they say to do it, not ask any questions and not respond with anything other than “right away, sir/ma’am!” to a request.
We unintentionally violate those expectations by seeking to be treated as an equal in the conversation with our prospect, establishing clear expectations for agendas and outcomes at the beginning of our visits and asking questions that go below the surface requests our prospects bring us.
Our prospect tells us when we violate their expectations be telling us that “we’re always trying to sell them something.” What they mean is they are uncomfortable both seeing and interacting with a salesperson as an equal likely because they’ve been abused by amateur salespeople who saw their interaction with our prospect as a transaction and not the beginning of an ongoing mutually profitable relationship.
Sometimes we don’t hear from our prospect. They ghost us after we unintentionally violate their expectations. We coach our clients to create multiple contacts at a prospect account, aka going “three wide and three deep,” so they can continue gathering information if their primary contact disappears. We also coach our clients to “fall on their sword” with a prospect who vanished by saying something like, “feels like I said or did something that upset you. Would you let me know what that was so I can learn.”
Two of our most important tasks as sales professionals is to remove ambiguity, anxiety and fear from our prospects and to truly, genuinely listen to our prospect’s whole response (words, tonality and body language). We made need to slow down to speed up our sale.
Until next time… go sell something.