Your Sales Team Needs Some R&R
That’s Rejection & Resilience – not Rest & Relaxation
Rejection and Resilience go hand in hand in every salesperson’s career. We know we won’t sell 100% of our prospects. Early in sales training we’re taught by well meaning instructors that the prospect is rejecting our offer or our products and not us. Not always true. Since people buy from people, it’s easy to see that sometimes, we are rejected because the prospect just doesn’t like us. Resilience is the tool to pull out of your toolbox when this happens. You have a choice, cut your losses and move on to another prospect or persist through the rejection to see if the sale can be salvaged. Knowing when to do either of those choices is the Art of the Sale. Short of getting kicked out of the prospect’s place of business, there is no definitive line that tells you it’s time to persist or time to move on. It’s a gut feeling and you will get better over time.
Special note for the experienced sales person: since you have an established territory with customers that love you, the trap you can fall into is to cut and run on prospects too soon. Whether it’s ego or lack of desire to chase prospects, you will need to pay special attention at re-energizing your Resilience. Try not to forget those early years when you did what it took to build your territory.
The buzzword in sales training is sell on “value." Find out what the customer values and then position your products to that value. If they won’t buy from you, then you haven’t found it. Keep asking questions. Keep building trust. One of the easiest ways to determine what a prospect values is to look at what they currently buy. You know your competitors well enough to determine why prospects buy from them. If not, ask the prospect. Start with the positive before you ask about the negative. For example, “What do you like about XYZ’s products?” or “How did you decide to use their products?” After some discussion, then you can start asking about what they don’t like or what their current supplier lacks.
We are in a very seasonal business and need to be aware of our prospect’s schedule. Salespeople often get themselves in trouble with a prospect by trying to go too fast or too slow. Going too fast occurs when the salesperson is unaware of his sales style or is trying to meet an internal deadline. For example, your company has set the order deadline for your new product at the end of the month. It’s two days before the end of the month and you are beating down the doors of your prospects trying to beat the deadline. Unfortunately, the prospect doesn’t care about your deadline.
Going too slow is often a bigger problem. Salespeople are so worried about being too pushy, they actual go too slow. The prospect loses interest, time goes by and the confused prospect ends up deciding against your products.
To solve this, keep checking with your prospect at each call on timing. Then stay accountable to the dates they give you.
Special Case #1: “I did business with your company in the past and I wasn’t happy.”
Dig in and find out what happened. Is it still an issue? Is it something recent enough that you need to "make it right." I ran into prospects that had all the paperwork they needed to return products or get a credit back on their account. They were unhappy with our company. Instead of calling us and fixing the problem, they simply quit buying from us. These are great opportunities to show them how you operate by fixing the problem. Then go into the sales process with them.
Special Case #2: “I did business with YOU in the past and wasn’t happy.”
This situation is a little more difficult as you have first hand experience with this prospect. However, they gave you an appointment to come back and call on them. That’s a good sign. Maybe they left you in anger or haste and now want to come back and be a customer again. For whatever reason, they want to return to you. One critical factor in this situation is to allow the prospect to save face. Understand their desire to come back, but do not rub it in that you were right or they should have stayed with you. They are coming back and that’s all that matters. Let the past stay in the past.
Sales R & R will make the difference in your success. We will all meet Resistance at some point. Currently in agribusiness, we are experiencing tough times for farmers, which means tough times for us. Resistance to spend money on our products is high, which means you need to master the other R – Resilience.