Every bit of advice that you read on the internet, including blogs like this one, needs to be taken in context.
Much of what you read is written as universal advice, applicable to everyone, applicable in every circumstance, and as though it should be adopted as your general practice no matter what. But none of this is really true. Much of the advice you read, including what you read here, is context specific. Out of context, it can be horribly bad advice.
Let’s look at some of my very favorite examples.
Cold Calling Is Dead
Every day I read more articles about how cold calling is dead, how the phone doesn’t work, how you create enemies instead of friends by picking up the phone, and how you should change your entire sales approach based on this particular belief. And in some cases cold calling is not the primary choice, nor should it be.
I know you’re surprised to read that here as I’m an enormous proponent of cold calling. But cold calling is different for different people. As someone who does coaching, consulting, and speaking, cold calling doesn’t make a lot of sense for me personally. It isn’t the very best approach, especially for someone who publishes as frequently as I do and who has the social media profile that I’ve been fortunate enough to build here.
But for a quota-carrying sales rep who doesn’t have the platform and brand recognition, who doesn’t have time to write, to publish, to record video, and to nurture relationships, not cold calling would be a death sentence. It would take them far too long to develop the opportunities that they need to succeed.
Never Be Closing
You also will find tons of advice suggesting you connect instead of close. There are a lot of people who say that you just never try to close your customer, rather you should wait until they give you some indication that they would like to proceed. There is some context where this makes sense.
In fact, when I had my brain surgery, I was approached by two doctors at UCLA. I had been taken to that hospital by the ambulance, and the two young doctors were extremely anxious to cut my head open and slice off a piece of my brain (particularly because it would allow them to video tape it so they could train future neurosurgeons). But they were so anxious, and so aggressive in asking me to let them perform this surgery, that they frightened me. I wasn’t ready to make that decision, and I needed time to speak with my family, and perhaps even get some more important things in order before I allowed myself to be cut open.
In the context of closing before you’ve done the necessary work to help your buyer get to the point of decision, not closing for the final commitment makes sense. In the context of selling something with very little risk and at a relatively low price, closing makes absolute sense, and in some contexts, the sooner the better. In B2B sales, you need as many as ten commitments. Not closing, not gaining those commitments, will cause you all kinds of problems.
Truth, In Context
Most of us, myself included, are writing about or speaking some truth. In the context in which we are writing it it is likely true, and it makes a lot of sense for people within this context to adopt the idea. But out of context it can be horrible advice and can have a devastating impact on your results.
Think deeply about the context in which the writer is writing. And carefully consider the decisions you make as you play the game. Dropping the context is dangerous to your results.
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