If you’re in the sales profession, you know there’s discomfort associated with many of its responsibilities:
- Making cold calls
- Being persistent with a prospect
- Closing the deal
- Negotiating the details
- Being honest
Wait, what? The last one…”being honest” is uncomfortable?
Apparently, the answer has been, is, and will likely always be “yes”.
“If the truth won’t sell it, don’t sell it” - Arthur Dunn, 1921
There is an anxiety that surrounds salespeople during the sales process as it relates to being honest.
“What if it costs me this sale?”
“I’m going to miss my target.”
“My boss is going to be all over me because I now don’t have enough in my pipeline.”
“Oh, and I’m going to miss my quarterly ‘commit’, too, which I proclaimed during our quarterly ‘commit’ beating...I mean meeting.”
“How will I explain why we lost this deal internally?”
What do all of these questions above, which prevent salespeople from doing the right thing by the client, have in common? Insecurity.
And where does security most reside? Leadership.
Transparency sells better than perfection, yet we still don't always do it
It’s why negative reviews right alongside a product on a website help it sell. We are wired to predict - to predict what our experience will be with a product or service. This is why we all read reviews, but more importantly, 85%+ of us read the negative reviews first.
We know subconsciously that perfection isn't real, and until we're able to assess both the pros AND THE CONS, we will never trigger a decision. You may have heard of that company called Amazon, right? They won the ecommerce war first, by listing both positive and negative reviews about their own products on their own website right under those products, and growth exploded.
It's how we're wired as human beings - when a website is acting as a salesperson, or if you as a human being are, transparency sells better. And, due to the proliferation of reviews and feedback on everything - and the ease of which we can find it - we now have to do embrace transparency in our selling efforts.
We can no longer hide our shortcomings and expect to get away with it.
Yet, during every interactive keynote or workshop I do, someone asks, "Why don't we do it?"
It starts with LEADERSHIP
When you get scared, what happens?
First, blood begins to move away from the "thinking" centers in the brain - the frontal lobe where logic resides - and rushes towards the Amygdala. That's your reptilian core, where "fight" or "flight" decisions get made at a subconscious level. Blood then flows out to the larger muscle groups in your body - away from thinking, and towards fighting and survival.
Is that where you want the blood flow of your salespeople - in the fighting and survival areas of their brain, and away from the thinking centers?
When we penalize and ostricize losing, that's what happens. Sellers worry for their jobs. Sellers worry for their paychecks. Sellers worry for their certainty and control. Sellers worry for their survival at work.
Unfortunately for most, losing for the right reasons is treated the same as losing for the wrong reasons.
Questions to ask yourself as a leader:
Am I creating an environment of "self-preservation" over "team" and "client success"? In other words, am I creating an environment where celebration and reward is entirely focused on the short-term and the individual?
Am I measuring the right things? Do we measure things like "time-to-loss", which looks at our losses, and assesses how long it took us to lose? The longer it takes to lose a deal, the higher the opportunity cost. Leaders should consider this KPI, and begin to measure it instead of prioritizing things like "pipeline load". Pipeline load is where we tell reps they need to have 4x their quota in pipeline at all times - which drives reps to fill their pipeline with...crap!
Do my team members know what our solutions truly do AND DON'T? This isn't an exercise of spraying out to the world all the reasons why you suck. But, truly understanding your solution's ideal and less-than-ideal fits is key.
Do my team members know how to embrace transparency, and lead with it? Embrace your "flawsome" - the things you and your organization gives up to be great at your core.
In the end, turnover will go down...that's for sure. Especially in today's environment. But the end result will also be clients who buy faster, buy more often, stay, advocate, and if you're going to lose...you'll lose faster, too!
It's time...with the low physical and emotional cost of changing jobs, we must foster environments where our team members feel safe, where our team members feel like we have their backs, and even more sticky, we must create environments where our mission matters. Selling the truth is a fantastic first step.
My fingers are furiously creating book number 2, The Transparent Sales Leader. Pre-order is already up, even though the book won't be out until February of 2022, and I haven't finished writing it yet.
Also, sales kickoff planning season is beginning. As always, I'd love to be a resource for you and your team, so tell the planners, and reach out!