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Bad Advice Sounds Nice

Jeb was listening to a podcast while he was driving home. He called to tell me what the person being interviewed had said. He couldn’t wait to tell me. He knew he was going to cause an immediate rise in my blood pressure.

The person being interviewed said that salespeople should no longer close. Instead, they should just “connect” with their prospective buyers. She said that when buyers are ready, they’ll let the salesperson know. She said salespeople should just try to be helpful.

Bad Advice Sounds Nice

The problem with bad advice like this is that it sounds so appealing to young, soft, impressionable, and failing salespeople.

  • Closing is Commitment-Gaining. If you are in sales, you are going to have to gain commitments. Period. If you sell something with a low price and little risk, closing for the deal is exactly what you should be doing. If you sell something complicated, expensive, and risky you should be asking for a bunch of commitments, including the commitment to buy from you when you have earned that right (might be early, might be later, but ask for it you must). If you want to make a difference for other people, you are going to have to ask for commitments.
  • Not Connecting. Creating Value. I can’t think of anything more detrimental to salespeople than the word “connecting.” It’s soft and squishy. It’s aimless. It’s social selling bunk. There isn’t enough intention behind. Worst of all, it sounds like wasting your dream client’s time. You are supposed to be creating value for your clients. You are supposed to be sharing ideas and helping your customers find a better future state. That’s the connection your customer wants from you.
  • No Waiting. Taking Action. The recipe for failing to create or win an opportunity has to begin with waiting. This is how you fail your prospects and clients. In what world is being proactive, setting an agenda, and driving towards better results a bad idea and waiting a good one. Waiting hurts you. Waiting hurts your company. And most of all, waiting hurts your prospective client by depriving them of the better results they might have sooner rather than later. The right answer is action.

Your Fears Betray You

I told Jeb all of this is about fear.

Some people are afraid to ask for the commitments they need because they fear their prospective client won’t like them, that they might lose the deal, that they’ll come across as pushy, or that they will be perceived as self-oriented. It’s fear that prevents you from asking.

The word connecting sounds nice. It sounds like you are supposed to be pleasant and have a nice chat. Creating value is a much higher bar to get over. It’s fear of not being your client’s peer, fear of not knowing enough, and fear of going toe-to-toe with your dream client that prevents you from sharing what you know.

And it’s fear that prevents you from taking action. Some people wait for their prospective client to take the next step because they fear losing the opportunity. If they ask, they may hear no. If they ask, they may be challenged by the objections that make them uncomfortable. They may even have their doubts about their own company exposed.

Question any advice that makes you feel comfortable instead of uncomfortable. Question any advice that suggests you can produce excellent results without having to work on the outer limits of your comfort zone.

Question any advice that recommends passivity or waiting. Question any suggestions that make something difficult sound easier than you know it to be.

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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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