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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA,

Bill was contacted by the CFO of a company whose employee benefits insurance business he had pursued for three years. The CFO said he was eager to see what Bill’s company could provide and requested a quote ASAP. Bill believed his persistence had finally paid off. He contacted the company’s HR department to obtain the employee data so he could begin working on the proposal.

Has Bill’s persistence finally paid off? Or, is the CFO only in search of a competitive quote to use as a bargaining chip with his current broker?

Suzanne asked her prospect if there was funding in place for the consulting project they were discussing. The prospect replied, “Money is no object.” Suzanne was smart enough to know that the prospect’s comment didn’t give her carte blanche, but she felt comfortable that she wasn’t going to be constrained by financial pressures as she began to develop the proposal for the project.

Should Suzanne feel comfortable? Did the prospect mean that funds are unlimited? Or, did he mean that money is “no object” because there isn’t any available?

Salespeople have “happy ears.” They tend to hear what they want to hear. Often however, what they believe they heard through those happy ears doesn’t reflect the real intent of what the prospect said.

It is the salesperson’s responsibility to:

  • Determine the prospect’s intentions and expectations.

  • Help the prospect be more specific and define any ambiguous terms or phrases that may be misinterpreted.

  • Tie up any loose ends.

  • Make sure all parties to a conversation or meeting are in sync with what transpired and what is supposed to happen next.

Make it a practice to recap the conversation after interactions with prospects or clients—“Let me quickly recap what we discussed to make sure we’re all on the same page and we didn’t leave anything out.” Then, review the conversation and ask, “Does anyone have anything to add…did I miss anything?”

Eliminating potential misunderstandings today reduces the opportunity for unfulfilled expectations tomorrow.

Will the “Real” You Please Stand Up

Everybody fails at something…many things. You can choose to regard failures as negative experiences—defeats, losses, setbacks. Or, you can choose to regard failures as positive experiences—opportunities to learn what not to do, what needs to be changed, and what needs to be fixed.

Failure can accelerate your success if you take the time to learn from your failures and apply those lessons to your next endeavor.

Recognizing failure as a potential positive experience gives you the freedom to try new things, be more creative, and stretch outside your comfort zone. If you don’t achieve the results you seek, ask yourself, “What did I learn from this?”

What you learn from your failures and subsequently apply will bring you exponentially greater success in the long term.

Logically, it all makes sense. And, intellectually, you can accept that “failure” can be a good experience (or, at least lead to good experiences). Accepting the concept intellectually is one thing. Dealing with failure emotionally is quite another story.

Before you can learn from your failures, you must learn to fail. And, in order to do that, you must understand failure and put it in the proper perspective.

When you fail to accomplish something, YOU are not a failure. You—a person with intrinsic worth—did not fail. Instead, it was your attempt—your action plan, strategy, or technique—that failed.

There is a difference between the Real-YOU and the Role-YOU. The Real-You is defined by your self-identity…your sense of self-worth. The Role-YOU is defined by your performance in a role— brother, sister, spouse, parent, little league coach, or salesperson. You may not be a particularly skilled little league coach, for instance, but that doesn’t devalue your self-worth—the Real-YOU. It only means that there is room for improvement in your little league coaching skills.

And, the same goes for your salesperson role. You’ll fail to schedule appointments with some prospects. You’ll fail to close sales with others. The failure is not a reflection of the Real-YOU, only the Role-YOU. These “failures” are nothing more than an indication that there is room for improvement in your salesperson skills.

You must learn to not take role-failures personally. An unsuccessful attempt to obtain an appointment or close a sale is just that—an unsuccessful attempt. It has nothing to do with your personal worth. Your personal worth is intact. If there is a lesson to be learned from the failed attempt, identify it and apply it to subsequent attempts. The lessons you learn from your “failures” will lead to future “wins.”

When is it Smart to Play Dumb?

Do you remember when you were new to the selling profession? If you were like most salespeople, you didn’t know much about your product or service, the needs of your customers and prospects, or your company’s competitive positioning in the marketplace. You were a “dummy”—a descriptive term, not a judgmental term. You didn’t talk much. You asked a few “dumb” questions like, “Why would you want to buy my product?” and you let the prospects do most of the talking. You allowed them to tell you what they wanted, why they wanted it, and what they would do to obtain it. Not knowing any better, you only presented the aspects of your product or service that addressed the issues the prospects mentioned. Somehow, perhaps by accident, you closed sales.

Eventually, you attained “amateur” status. You obtained some product knowledge, learned something about the needs of potential customers, and uncovered the weaknesses of your competitors. Not a bad thing—except you felt compelled to display your newfound knowledge. Of course, prospects needed time to “think-it-over” as they considered all the information you eagerly provided. You still closed sales, but fewer of them.

At some point, you looked back at what you did as a “dummy”—asked few questions and let the prospect do most of the talking—as well as the number of sales you closed, and decided that was a better strategy. When you made the decision to revert to that “dumb” strategy, you attained “professional” status.

Now, you withhold your encyclopedic knowledge and only reveal bits of information when appropriate to keep the selling process moving forward. You ask those “dumb” questions and gather appropriate information with which to frame your presentation in the most favorable light.

As a professional, you do what you did as a “dummy”…on purpose. You talk less, listen more, and “accidentally” close more sales.



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