by Terry Ledden - Managing Partner - Sandler Training Ottawa
"You will never change the things in your life that you know are defective unless you learn the truth. Change requires learning the truth." (Rick Warren).
Taking in Rick Warren's Daily Hope reading this morning I couldn't help relating his message to a major challenge we as sales pro's face every day.
As a group, we salespeople are a pretty highly motivated species. We take on responsibility and and accountability for actions of others (Decision Makers) over which we have no control. Our scorecard is clear and visible. Win - Lose. Yes or No. Land too often on the wrong side of those uncontrollable choices and we have a career defining intervention.
So why do we take that risk? Most of us strive for something better. A better life for our families and ourselves. A better business result for our customers. A better business result for our companies.
We want all that yet we too often fail to admit to the defective or counter-productive behaviours we exhibit each day that continue to hold us back from hitting those well meaning goals in life and achieving our true potential. Inherently we know we need to change. We procrastinate. We justify. We make excuses. We avoid the truth. In order to change we have to know where we are and that means accepting the truth. Quit lying to ourselves about the reality of the situation.
We lie to ourselves about the reality of our pipeline. We lie to ourselves about all the pressures and demands on our time as the reason why we're not out there often enough generating new business. We lie to ourselves about a lot of things as a way to avoid the truth. The truth will make us uncomfortable and we know that the only way to get rid of that uncomfortableness is to either act on it or act as if it doesn't exist. For many, acting on it is uncomfortable and therefore to be avoided.
Top 5 Self-Defeating Sales Lies
5. Our price was too high!
The LIE: Salesperson says, "We lost the deal because the competition gave them a better price." The TRUTH: Decision maker says, "The salesperson didn't listen." "The salesperson didn't understand our needs."
When you look at win - loss data, what is the most frequent reason salespeople record (and believe) as the reason for the loss? You guessed it. PRICE. I'm not suggesting the salesperson lied to the company and falsified the input. They simply lied to themselves, in order to avoid facing the truth that they blew it. That would feel uncomfortable. Interesting though, in the numerous win - loss decision maker interviews we've conducted for our clients it is actually quite shocking to hear the buyers' perspective and rationale for the decision..... "More comfortable with the other guys, the other company appeared more serious about our business, the other company listened better, the other company understood our needs etc.
4. That will never work HERE!
The LIE: That won't work in our industry - market - company - world! The TRUTH: I'm way too uncomfortable with that!
Salespeople with self-limiting attitudes and beliefs often feel threatened by the implication to them personally, if what is being presented to them actually does work in their industry - market - company - world. Because the stretch is too far outside the individuals' comfort zone (based on current experience and their view of reality), they lie to themselves about it's relevance. They can avoid the discomfort that comes with the risk of trying something new. Believing the lie, they can still sleep through the night.
3. My territory sucks!
The LIE: My territory can't sustain my budget! The TRUTH: I'm avoiding accountability for missing budget!
A few years ago I had a recently retired former national league pro quarterback on my sales team. A great hire we thought back then. Competitive. Focused. Committed to achievement and hard work. He shared a common geographic territory with one other sales person based on a simple alpha split by company name. In other words, pro quarterback was assigned companies with the odd letters of the alphabet (A-C-E etc). His team mate ran toward the odd letters, the B-D-F companies. Quarterback pro was producing less than half of his team mate. In our final One on One together I asked him what he thought the issue was. His Self-LIE; "All the potentials start with the odd letters of the alphabet! It's not my fault."
2. I'm way too busy to prospect and make calls!
The LIE: If I don't get back to all these people by end of day, they'll stop doing business with me! The TRUTH: I decide to let the easy work fill the time available.
A few months ago I posed a question to our regular Monday morning President's Club training group. "If there was one thing you'd want to address over the next 90 days that would make a huge difference for you in your results, what would that be?" Almost everyone replied with some form of ..."Get my prospecting back on track!"
Drilling deeper I asked, "what's stopping you from doing that? What would have to happen to make that possible?" Again, there was a majority opinion. "Time Management" was the answer. If we could just be better at managing our time.
Over the next week we had everyone track their pay time activities (the things they do during the hours on a 24 hour clock within which decision makers are accessible to them) in 15 minute increments. The TRUTH: Too much non productive activity. Things they initiated and participated in and could easily say NO to were sucking away the time that could be applied to prospecting.
We discussed why that was happening. They were hiding in the that self-lie of time management to legitimize their avoidance of prospecting.
.... and now for the number one growth killer!
1. I'm great at what I do! I (we) don't need help from anyone.
Sales people (and their managers!) who are truly EFFECTIVE continuously seek improvement. They are in search of any new approach that could give them that slight edge advantage. They don't lie about their reality. They are highly aware of their defects and they have the backbone to act on them. That's what distinguishes them as highly EFFECTIVE. The irony though is that because they are so highly AWARE of their defects and opportunities for improvement, they typically view themselves as somewhat INEFFECTIVE! It's that high self-awareness that fuels their effectiveness.
On the flip side ... those sales people, teams and the sales cultures they make up that believe they ARE highly effective have a tendency to be highly UNAWARE of their defects and shortcomings. As a result they fail to advance, fail to improve, fail to grow. Arrogance and the denial of any weakness or vulnerability are symptoms of avoidance. To admit weakness, to know the truth creates discomfort. So to avoid discomfort, we lie to ourselves about how good we are. We avoid any necessity to change. For many, change is uncomfortable. We might "fail" and that might expose the truth!
What lies do YOU hear sales people telling THEMSELVES? Let us know.