Sales is like Relationships - One Step at a Time

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Posted in Sales Coaching, Sales Troubleshooting

We had a client who forbid us to use the word ‘sales’ with anyone in their company.  This client was a founder who had a dislike of the term and everything that it ‘stood for’, in their perception.  They explained that using this word would alienate us from their team members, franchisees and company leadership.  In our world, this was cause for celebration. We celebrated after we were initially schooled about this bias and again a few years later when we were thanked for generating the largest royalty check in the history of the company.


Because there are such judgements and biases in place about sales and selling, selling has a lot of fear surrounding everything from the terminology to the practice.  You know this if you found yourself in a position of having to sell because you started a new job or bought a franchise and by default or ‘accident’ found yourself needing to sell for a living.  Or if you need to lead/ manage people who sell as part of their job description. Or maybe you haven’t even admitted that you sell for a living & you call it ‘marketing’ or use another term to reduce the pressure and baggage that usually accompany the fears around selling..  


Fear and discomfort aren’t limited to you, the business owner, manager, franchisee or salesperson.  There’s usually the same biases and therefore similar fears coming from your potential clients or members and from your co-workers or employees.  


This fear manifests as defensiveness, control, withdrawal and many other forms of behavior designed to protect ourselves from getting hurt or exploited.  The assumptions are widespread and sometimes unconscious.


It’s uncomfortable to be on the other end of a communication with someone who you don’t know that doesn’t know you but wants you to buy something.  And this is a big challenge with a lot of entrepreneurs, business owners, salespeople and managers who want to go from A to Z in one step (mostly for reasons of efficiency and not realizing why it’s a bad idea).


Relationships are built one step at a time, and good sales conversations follow the same principle.  First I want you to want to talk to me. I want to inspire or seduce you into a conversation, compel you to reach out or inspire you to want to be part of my tribe and learn from me.  When I believe that you’re interested, I’ll take the next step.


Second, I want you to talk to me.  Engage with me because you can’t not, you realize that there’s potential value for you that you want to capture, or because you’ve already gotten value from me and you want more.  I want you to return my email, my LinkedIn mail, my phone call, text or social communication.


It’s making this step 2 happen that’s slippery for a lot of people.  This is the point at which a lot of communication takes a ‘wrong’ turn, and you start to see the fears come to the surface.  Here’s what we see happening & we’re leading a series of free webinars on how to shift out of these behaviors that cost you money into behaviors that make you money:


  1. Communication gets dropped  

    1. They get busy, life happens and conversations get dropped

    2. They don’t prioritize and have a system to manage these communications

    3. They get fearful about communicating because they feel like they need to sell something and they let their anxiety influence their communication

  2. Communication gets shortcut

    1. Business owners and salespeople attempt to move quickly through follow up and end up doing more disconnecting than connecting

    2. They  cut to the chase and ask prospects to buy too early

  3. They give up

    1. If a lead or prospect does not return their communication on the first or 2nd attempt, they give up and move on to the next person

    2. They keep looking for new leads instead of learning how to communicate with the ones they already have

  4. They vomit all over people

    1. They communicate in ways that repel rather than attract their potential customers

      1. They write long, drawn out emails

      2. They don’t have a call to action in their communication

      3. They talk about themselves instead of the benefits that their customers will receive

      4. They send a cold sales pitch over email or voicemail


Our recommendations and training focus on prioritizing, streamlining communication and automating tasks that interfere with priorities.  Easy to say, harder to do.


Prioritizing sales communication usually requires 2 shifts:

  • A change in mindset, moving out of the fear & into confidence.  This requires education that provides actionable tactics.

  • An understanding of the bottom line costs and value of these conversations to the profitability of your business.  This usually requires education around your numbers and KPIs.


Shifting out of shortcut thinking requires education:

  • Understanding the stages of the buyer journey

  • Developing better listening skills

  • Learning a process to progress prospects from one stage to the next


Giving up usually gets resolved when business owners understand prioritizing and have started to shift out of shortcut thinking.


Communication shifts happen when business owners and salespeople learn how to develop their listening skills and understand the buyer journey.


These shifts will quickly and dramatically improve your bottom line and ready you to effectively grow your business.


Here’s a webinar on taking the first step if you’re interested.