3 Top Sales Trap
1. Offer solutions to customer problems
It is important to wait for the client to see that the problem is serious enough to resolve. Psychologically, the solution has less impact on the client when he is not willing to solve the problem than when he is ready to solve it. It’s wrong to assume that you should provide solutions to the customer problems you see.
People differ in how to adapt and live with their problems. It is helpful for salespeople to separate client problems into two categories: issues that the customer wants to live with and problems that the client wants to solve. Clients are more receptive to their solutions when they see their problems as serious enough to solve.
Don’t try to solve all the customer’s problems. Don’t try to answer every objection. The more reasons you give to support your argument, the weaker your argument becomes.
Remember always offer the solution which the client seriously wants to solve.
2. Rejection is Failure
It is easy to believe that rejection means failure. It is a human nature to feel bad about rejection and to take it personally. But this is not true in sales. In sales, although “yes” means success, “no” does not necessarily mean failure. When customers say “no,” they just say they don’t want to buy right now. They do not say that the salesperson is a failure. Sellers who believe this fallacy does not look at the big picture. Rejection is not failure. The only way people fail in sales is by giving up.
Top performers don’t give up. Thomas Edison experienced 10,000 failures before he hit on success and invented the light bulb. Edison counted all these failures as part of his success and said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.”
Top performers use a learning technique called “double-loop” learning. They stand back from the failure and mentally review the situation. They analyze what they thought they were doing versus what they actually did, ask for and accept feedback and then practice and redefine what they want to do the next time. They learn by relearning.
Remember giving up is failure.
3. It’s Possible to Sell Anything to Anybody
“She can sell ice to Eskimos” is the compliment, meaning that she’s a good salesperson. She can sell anything to anybody is the idea. Actually it’s not true. If a salesperson pushes the sales actually are not creating values for the clients.
This sales trap also ignores the analysis of top sales experts, who believe that salespeople come in two basic personality types. “Salespeople come in two types—‘pushers’ and ‘pullers,’” says sales researcher Neil Rackham. Pushers are defined as those salespeople who dump a lot of information on their customers. Says Rackham, “In the push style, the energy comes from the persuader, who ‘tells.’ Because the push style is about telling, it’s easy to practice and repeat. You get really good at a presentation when you’ve made it 100 times. So push sellers gravitate to a standard pitch that becomes over practiced and therefore hard to change. The push style requires power, with expertise or knowledge being a type of power.” In the pull style, on the other hand, the energy comes from the customer through the questions the seller asks. Pullers elicit information from their customers by asking lots of good questions, and then customize the solutions around what customers say they need. The pull style takes more time, so it’s less suitable for short sales.
Salespeople come in two types, pushers and pullers, and you can’t sell anybody anything unless the buyer has a need for it. Pushers are not as effective as pullers because they don’t seek out the customer’s needs as well.
1. Neil Rackham and John Carlisle, “The Effective Negotiator— Part I: The Behavior of Successful Negotiators,” Journal of European Industrial Design Training 2, no. 6 (1978): 6–11.
2. The Dartmouth Group, Ltd., ten-year field studies of sales top performers.
3. Argyris and Schon first proposed double-loop learning theory in C. Argyris and D. Schon, Increasing Leadership Effectiveness (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1976). Double-loop learning is a theory of personal change, or how an individual learns to change underlying values and assumptions. Double-loop learning incorporates “theory of action,” a perspective first outlined by Argyris & Schon in Theory in Practice(San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1974). “Theory of action” (or what people think they do) takes the perspective that human beings are actors and that an individual’s behavior is part of and is informed by his or her theory of action.
4. Conversations between the author and Neil Rackham in August 2000.