We’ve all been there… We’ve all made excuses not to call that prospect… or been relieved when we did call and went straight through to voice mail… or felt just a little bit intimidated by that person and/or their position…
In selling, there’s a fine line between being respectful and completely disempowering yourself. Here are some examples of what this feels like when it’s happening:
- You get downright nervous, maybe even scared, when you are calling on someone with a senior or C-level title.
- You change your approach when working with people who you feel are busier, more important, or more powerful than you are.
- You don’t think of yourself as an equal to a decision-maker.
- You think you have something to prove.
- You aren’t confident that you or the product you’re selling can stand on its own merits.
Any one of these perceptions can cause you to project anxiety, make you race through a sales presentation, or cause you to fail in truly connecting with your prospect.
What you need to do is get on an equal footing. Believe you can help your prospect solve a problem facing their business. Understand that executives prefer to deal with people who are confident, knowledgeable, and unlikely to waste their time by kowtowing to them.
It’s a little like the Wizard of Oz.
Remember the first time Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion visited the Wizard? Their knees were knocking. They made elaborate preparations before seeing him and could barely bring themselves to enter before him and make their request. When they approached from that position of weakness and fear, he boomed and thundered and demanded they prove their worth first by bringing back the broom from the Wicked Witch of the West.
The second time they came before the Wizard, they had that broom. And they had gained confidence, too. They entered in ready to be heard. But even as they made their requests, even with their newfound confidence, they were visibly trembling in fear. The Wizard responded from his position of power, a position that they were buying into. He told them to come back the next day…
It wasn’t until Toto pulled back the curtain and helped them see that the Great and Mighty Oz was just a man… not until then that they saw themselves as being on an equal footing. Then, and only then, at the moment when they saw themselves as worthy of his time and attention… Only then could they get what they had come for.
It’s no different for you. If you are not expectant, confident and presenting from a position of equal stature, then you will not be viewed as someone who is worth spending time with. Your prospects won’t have confidence in you unless you have confidence in yourself.
In order to find an equal footing, put yourself in the prospect’s shoes.
Think, for example, about what it would be like to be an executive of a large, prestigious company. As an executive you would, of course, be very busy… Just like every professional salesperson I know. As an executive, you would be charged with shaping the future of your company, with solving problems, and with inspiring others to make things happen. You would want reliable partners, people you could trust, confident and knowledgeable people who bring expertise and solutions to you. You’d want ideas.
Professional sellers can offer exactly that to busy, important, intimidating customers and prospects… IF they are truly committed to partnerships that solve problems and IF they are confident in their own ability AND in their products.
These are big IFs. You have to break through them in order to be effective. When you do, you’ll find yourself on equal ground. You’ll speak with confidence. You’ll project that time spent with you is high value. You’ll get more appointments, and you’ll make more sales.
About the Author: Deb Calvert has worked as a Corporate Director in a Fortune 500 company and as a consultant, coach and trainer to nearly 400 businesses of all sizes. She helps leaders, managers and sellers become more effective in their roles. Deb is a certified executive coach, and one of 2015’s Top 50 Sales Influencers. Her bestselling book, DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected®, is based on field research with buyers and what they want from sales professionals.