The A-word in Sales

A-wordWhen you read this title I don’t know what you assumed the “a-word” to be, but my “a-word” is “assume”.

At some time growing up we’re told don’t make assumptions, hence the saying: “assume” makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.

Childishly simple: yes. Easily done: yes – for some of us.

Assumptions seem to be made when we’re feeling emotional; when we’re really attached to an outcome – like a sale.

So instead of singing a ditty in my head about becoming a donkey, I’ve listed a few emotional assumptions I make after 20 years selling, plus tactics to help myself get over them.

#1) No news is bad news.

When you’re in the midst of a sales engagement and your customer goes quiet, they don’t return calls or emails immediately, we emotionally assume they’re no longer interested in our product or service.

RATIONALE: No news is no news!

You don’t know what your customers are going through. They’re ridiculously busy. Likely they’re multitasking and doing the work of several positions consolidated during the recession. Or they, or someone in their family, may have had a health or personal emergency.

Wait in peace, or follow up respectfully. The reality is from your side of the fence – no news only means no news.

 #2) Customers question your proposals or pricing because they don’t trust you

When you’ve submitted your sales proposal or pricing and your customer comes back at you with detail questions, we emotionally assume they’re trying to negotiate lower pricing, or worse, challenging our honesty.

RATIONALE: Respond with just what they’ve asked for – nothing more

Customers are not you, they’re a different person. They’re not inside your head worrying about the sale or pricing.

They’re inside their head fretting about justifying a purchase or payment.

In almost every instance their questions are to try and understand how to justify buying from you, or getting approval upstairs for your invoice.

And they need to understand because it’s their decision and their job. What you thought was crystal clear in your proposal or pricing isn’t to them.

So never get defensive.

Never over complicate things by bringing in new unrelated topics at this point, even if they tangentially justify your point.

Only answer their questions honestly and in the briefest form possible. Less is more. After all, you’ve already presented your best information earlier, they’re likely just looking for clarification on the finer points. Not trying to strong arm you down.

#3) Customers don’t reply to your email because they’re not interested

When you’ve been talking with a customer in the early stages of a sale and they ask you to email them, and you do but there’s no reply – we emotionally assume they’re no longer interested.

RATIONALE: Respectfully persevere through multiple channels

Customers are inundated with email. When they don’t respond it’s likely because yours got lost amongst the multitudes. Your email could be:

  • Stuck in their spam filter
  • Never made it in because the customer’s IT system rejects emails with a certain number of hyperlinks (think about your signature line)
  • Deleted by your customer because they scanned the subject line and they didn’t recognize what is was about (they can skip looking at who it’s from)

Try these steps to get your email read:

Summary,

Sales reps are human. Humans are emotional. Eventually emotions become too tiresome and its time to think rationally.

If you don’t make assumptions when something is important on the line, the more power to you. To the rest of us, here’s hoping.

 

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