Professional salespeople approach prospects and clients from a position of Equal Business Stature; however, if our sales funnel looks slim or we are emotionally attached to a particular client we can fall into an “oh shit” spiral when our client approaches us from a less than positive position.
Might sound like, “Salesperson we thought we were getting <BLANK>” or “You told us that we would get <BLANK> if we switched to you.” In both of those cases our client may be operating from a story they made up that doesn’t match reality. This is why one of my mentors, the person who introduced me to Sandler, would say after a new client signed our agreement, “would you tell me in your own words what you think you just bought?” In one case that question saved us from months of awkward conversations with a client whose story about what they thought they bought didn’t match reality.
The “oh shit” spiral happens in 0.2 seconds in our head and goes from “oh shit, this client is mad” to “oh shit, I have to do something,” to “oh shit, I have to offer them something (a discount or free services) to make them happy,” “oh shit, I’ll lose this client if I don’t start talking.” In this spiral we’re likely to say and do things that aren’t in our best interest to “save” a client who might not be that upset.
If we feel ourselves getting triggered into an “oh shit” spiral or we have the presence of mind to recognize we’re in one, we can avoid the spiral or pull ourselves out by:
- Stopping – when we’re in a spiral we’re reacting from our animal brain instead of responding from our human brain. Stopping gives our human brain time to catch up.
- Breathing – more oxygen in our brain equals more fuel for our human brain functions to operate
- Asking – a question like, “thank you for calling, Client. I’m a little confused. How did you come to expect that you were getting <BLANK>?”
- Disconnecting – emotionally from the situation. Our client, no matter how long our relationship, is calling “a salesperson,” not the wonderful human being who is us. If we take their statements as a personal attack we are unlikely to avoid or pull out of the spiral and are likely to say or do something we regret later.
Those four steps work better when our sales funnel is full and we’re not relying on a few (or a single) client to hit our quarterly targets. If either of those points aren’t true our first step in avoiding the “oh shit” spiral is broadening our client base and filing our pipeline.
Until next time… go sell something.