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Selling Differently, Part II

By Cathy Jackson, Sales Coach, Sales Champions

This article is the second of a two-part series. To review part one, click here.

In the first of this two-part special feature we looked at the background and scientific research that has proven without a doubt that the most authentic predictor of sales success is “the number of contacts initiated with prospective buyers on a consistent basis.” All of you “solution sellers” are probably having a hard time allowing yourself to believe this. After all, we have spent the last decade learning how to use “consultative selling” to improve sales performance. But before you get a chance to sell your solutions, you’ve got to be able to initiate contact with your prospects. In this second part, we’ll take a closer look at the hidden emotional barriers that undermine your ability to build a consistent pipeline of potential buyers.

Last month we introduced you to the psychology behind self-limiting behaviors that keep you and your sales organization from making your numbers and filling your sales pipeline. If you have allowed yourself to believe the evidence behind the 30-year research by George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson, then you are ready to confront the twelve faces of “sales call reluctance®.” I will also introduce you to some of the countermeasures that can counteract behaviors that may be slowing your sales and constraining your ability to act. If you keep doing the same thing, you will continue to have the same results. Here’s something that you can do differently next year to grow your business and compete more effectively for limited dollars available to purchase high-tech products?

In the first part of this series, I gave you the background and painted the picture of what sales call reluctance is and where it originates. Now let’s discover how you can put this valuable insight to work and make this selling season the best you’ve ever had, and more importantly, put your sales career on a powerful trajectory.

Confronting the Enemy
When the fear of self-promotion attaches itself to people in the sales profession, it imposes an artificially low ceiling on prospecting activity and this limits the bottom line, even for sales people who think they are doing great. It goes on in the background, sometimes without us really tuning in. It’s an emotional short-circuit in an otherwise motivated and goal-directed person.

Call reluctance isn’t a one-dimensional trait like “shyness” or “timidity.” Some refer to it as the “fear of rejection” or “fear of failure.” These are designer labels given to behaviors that are more complex. Under the mounting evidence of the complexity of call reluctance, the researchers identified 12 types and as their research continues there may be more.

Four keys unlock the door to emotional freedom from prospecting apprehension and they are start with “A.” They are:

  • Admit – Allow yourself to ask, “what emotional barriers are restricting me and/or my sales team from initiating contacts sufficiently to support our sales goals?”
  • Awareness – Learn what sales call reluctance is and what you can do to predict, prevent, diagnose, and overcome it.
  • Assess – Measure your sales call reluctance scale
  • Apply – Apply countermeasures that can eliminate and manage non-productive behaviors caused by sales call reluctance.Sales Call Reluctance® Types
    To help you understand call reluctance types, I have described those types that occur the most frequently in sales professionals in the high-tech market. These types were developed from scientific research over thirty years. The SPQ*Gold: Sales Call Reluctance Scale is the instrument used to measure call reluctance types.

    This instrument is also used to measure motivation and goal orientation. Think of motivation as the amount of energy available for prospecting and goals as the target that the energy is plugging into. Without sufficient motivation (or energy) to prospect you may not have a call reluctance problem but a “motivation” problem that needs addressing first. If you don’t have clear and focused prospecting goals then your motivation gets diverted to “coping” with prospecting instead of actually prospecting.

    Our researchers like to tell the story of a major sales presentation they made to a large company. Being an Over-preparer Call Reluctance type, George spent many hours preparing a 90-minute presentation with featured facts, figures, charts, statistics, endorsement letters, some anecdotes, and one unreliable joke. Early into the presentation the customer asked, “what do I have to do to get started using some of these today” “who do I write the check to.” Seemingly unaware that he could make the close, George continued. Finally, at a break, Shannon tells George that the customer is ready to buy now and that if he continued they might lose the sale. Emotionally stiffening for a fight, George exclaims, “I spent 14 hours learning this presentation and this guy is going to hear it.” Sound like anybody you know?

    This type of call reluctance behavior over-analyzes and under acts. Sales presentations tend to stress information and is product-oriented while neglecting emotion. The sales professional with this type of call reluctance will spend more time getting ready to prospect and burn up available energy and have none left over to actually prospect. A learned behavior and most frequent in technical sales people, this type of call reluctance is preventable and correctable.

    Dressing for success and managing your image to customers is no doubt an attribute to sales success. But for salespeople with Hyper-Pro Call Reluctance, being overly concerned with how you look and speak, your knowledge, and with the image that others have of you ceases being instrumental and starts to interfere. It drains energy earmarked for prospecting and becomes an end in itself. To a Hyper-Pro, most prospecting is inconsistent with the image they project, so it’s emotionally impossible. I worked with a salesperson that felt he couldn’t call on the executives of prospective buyers unless he had an executive title like Vice President. He actually had business cards (and paid for himself) printed with that title. If you are reading this and suspect that you might have Hyper-Pro characteristics, then ask yourself, “is your image more important than your career?” The outlook for this type of call reluctance depends entirely upon self-responsibility. If you are able to admit to yourself that you have call reluctance, then the outlook is bright. This is the fifth most frequently occurring type of call reluctance and found among sales managers and consultants.

    Most technology salespeople will have to present or demonstrate their products and services to prospective buyers. The format may be one-on-one demonstrations or presentations to groups of prospects. If you have Stage Fright Call Reluctance, you may be uncomfortable speaking in front of clients, one-on-one, small groups, or large groups. Avoiding opportunities to present, can limit the types of prospecting you can do. For example, you may totally avoid seminar selling or doing theatre presentations at tradeshows. A learned behavior, this form of call reluctance is the easiest form to correct.

    Walking through a tradeshow exhibit floor, I picked up business cards from the staffers doing booth duty. The titles on these cards revealed a common theme among high-tech companies. That theme is related to Role Rejection Call Reluctance and occurs when a salesperson is intellectually willing, but emotionally unable to accept a career in sales. Afflicted with this type of call reluctance, a salesperson may be unaware of the problem except for the nagging feeling that he or she should be considering a career change. These salespeople are hiding the negative beliefs that salespeople are just peddlers, sales is dishonorable, and they are disappointments to family and friends. What I saw on the collected business cards, were deflected titles such as; sales engineer, document management analyst, marketing associate, technical consultant, sales consultant. I commend those companies (which were very few) that actually had a “sales representative.” Sown early in life, this type of call reluctance is learned and easy to correct.

    The Yielder Call Reluctance type has difficulty asserting themselves particularly when it comes to prospecting and is a blood cousin to “close reluctance.” This behavior is afraid to incite conflict or risk losing approval. Always tentative, they are unwilling to appear pushy or to seem intrusive. They don’t want to bother the busy, disturb the indisposed, or interrupt the otherwise engaged. They are always waiting for the “right” time, the “right” circumstance to prospect. There is a hereditary component to this type of call reluctance but with appropriate training procedures, it has a positive outlook. It is ranked number one in frequencies of occurrence among sales professionals. (On a personal observation of my own call reluctance, I feel being raised in the south is ground zero for this type of call reluctance!)

    If you are planning to reach higher in the decision-making hierarchy to catapult sales in 2004, then assess the level of Social Self-Consciousness Call Reluctance in your sales team. Typically, Socially Self-Consciousness salespeople shun prospects with wealth, prestige, power, education, or social standing. Your salespeople may do great calling on the IT manager or department head, but freeze if they are to make contact higher up in the executive team. When a company shifts marketing emphasis to the board room, or when purchasing decisions for a product or service are made at high organizational levels, or when educated, professional people constitute the prime market for a product or service, Social Self-Consciousness Call Reluctance can be lethal to a sales career. If detected early and the proper training provided it is a relatively easy form of call reluctance to correct.

    How many of you sell a product or service that could be used by a friend or family member? I can hear your answer now. Nada. Zippo. Zero. What most of you are saying is that I don’t sell a product that could be used by a family member so this type of call reluctance doesn’t apply to me. Two of the most common types of call reluctance are Separationist and Emotionally Unemancipated. Separationist Call Reluctance types believes that selling to friends is exploitive, and would never prospect to friends. Emotionally Unemancipated Call Reluctance types feel the same way when it comes to selling to family members. Maybe friends and family are not potential customers for your products and services but have you ever considered that they may know other people who could open a door for you. Have you ever really described what you do and told your friends and family what a good lead would look like to you? Give that some thought. This behavior is learned and easy to correct.

    The sales world we live in today has tight or non-existent travel budgets and the use of technology is replacing face-to-face sales calls. Sales professionals with Telephobia Call Reluctance types are struggling to get to work every day. I have known salespeople who would rather hop on a plane to follow-up on dubious sales leads then use a telephone to prospect. It’s not about knowing how to prospect on the phone or what to say. It’s about feeling comfortable enough to do it. One negative episode for prospecting purposes is all it could take to stigmatize your phone. Did you ever call someone for a date and get rejected? This one isolated event is enough to cause severe Telephobia when using the phone for sales prospecting. A learned behavior, it can be corrected once a serious commitment is made and serious measures are used.

    Most salespeople will tell you that the best lead and route to increased sales is getting a referral from a customer. Salespeople with Referral Aversion Call Reluctance types are losing out because they don’t want to jeopardize the relationships with clients by asking for a referral. Millions of dollars go to the competition because of the reluctance to take this one small step toward your next sale. I think most of you would agree that your customers expect you to ask for referrals and would gladly endorse you and your products, if asked. Sales professionals afflicted with Referral Aversion call reluctance find this too distressful and will avoid asking for referrals at all cost. The behavior is learned and could originate with one unexpected and discourteous reply. With proper diagnosis and training, it is easily corrected.

    The Remedies
    Now that you have allowed yourself to at least become aware of sales call reluctance types you may be curious. Given that you did identify with any of the types, what can you do to eliminate these barriers and boost your sales performance.

    I will introduce you to some of the countermeasures that have been field-tested and work when you actually practice them. It’s important to note that thinking about doing the work is not the same as doing the work. It’s also important that you not try to understand why and how these techniques work–just do it.

    There are two categories of countermeasures: word-based and mechanical. Several techniques under each category work with specific types of call reluctance. I will share with you one word-based procedure and one mechanical procedure that can be used with all types of call reluctance.

    Word Based
    Word-based procedures depend on words and self-persuasion. You will have to talk yourself into doing what we want to do.

    I’ll start with Thought Realignment. Although this procedure may be less effective for combating call reluctance, it may be more familiar to you than some of the other techniques. It’s best suited for preventing call reluctance.

    The principle behind Thought Realignment is this:

    What you SAY…influences what you FEEL…which alters what you DO. So, if you want to change what you DO… modify what you FEEL…by altering what you SAY.

    Can you remember a time when prospecting that you talked yourself out of making a call? A Yielder call reluctance type may hesitate to make the call if they had just tried making contact two days before. Maybe you were going to ask a customer for a referral and then decided to wait a little while longer to make sure the implementation went well. You have your prospect list in front of you and before you start calling you decide you must know what’s going on in the account first. The Overpreparer in you starts searching the entire Internet for news about this customer. Without realizing it, you look at the time and it’s 11:45. You say to yourself that it’s too close to lunchtime and nobody will be around. You’ll start right after lunch.

    Okay, to change the above scenarios, you have to change your self-talk. There are two types of self-talk; goal supporting and goal obstructing. Goal supporting self-talk uses statements like “I want to…” “I’d prefer to…” “It would be better if… This kind of self-talk doesn’t put undue pressure on you to achieve perfection every time. Goal obstructing sounds like, “I’d better…” “I can’t…” “I have to…” These statements set up undesirable imagined consequences if not met. This kind of self-talk is obstructive because it can divert your energy away from prospecting and into coping with the imagined consequences of failure.

    To give you an example of how this works, let’s take the Yielder scenario above. Using goal supporting self talk, the Yielder could say, “I know I just called this prospect two days ago and I’m sure he has been very busy and didn’t get a chance to return the call. He will be glad that I am diligence in trying to reach him.” Our Yielder changed what he said to himself which changed how he felt about making the call that changed what he did. He made the call.

    If your sales call reluctance personal prescription includes Thought Realignment, you’ll use a simple worksheet to keep a daily log of where you are and what you’re doing whenever call reluctance strikes. You’ll write down what you hear yourself say this prospecting situation means to you. It’s important to learn to listen to your self-talk themes. The technique also requires that you challenge the validity of your self-talk. Ask yourself these three clearing questions:

    1. Is there proof this has to be a frightening situation?
    2. Can you prove that making a phone call (giving a speech, asking for a referral, etc.) requires you to be afraid?
    3. Do I have to feel the fear right now?

    Mechanical
    Mechanical procedures work whether you understand or agree with them. They are more powerful than word-based techniques because they are powered by “brain wiring.”

    Most call reluctance is a habit-level behavior. A habit is a “learned automatic sequence of behavior.” Like remembering the feelings stirred by an old song or how it feels to bite into a lemon, you don’t think about your negative reactions to prospecting. They’re automatic. Mechanical procedures work by attacking the automatic stimulus-response sequence.

    The mechanical technique, Thought Zapping can be used to prevent and correct all types of call reluctance and if the procedure is applied and practiced, has immediate results.

    Here are the six steps for Thought Zapping:

    1. List your negative intruders: These are the goal-obstructing thoughts you experience about prospecting.
    2. Identify emotional reactions: These are your energy leaks, the physical and emotional responses you experience. For example, refilling your coffee cup, or feelings of irritation.
    3. Establish a base rate for intruders: This means that for three days, you’re simply going to count how many times negative feelings intrude on your prospecting activity.
    4. Zap to interrupt: Once you begin, it’s important to zap yourself every time a negative thought intrudes on your prospecting. (Wear a thick rubber band on your wrist and zap the top of your wrist.)
    5. Insert substitute: Replace the negative thought with a positive image. It can be a reward you hope to obtain, or simply a word of encouragement.
    6. Measure your progress: After zapping yourself consistently for a few days, count how many times your negative intruders occur now. Most people find that as thoughts that are more positive begin to take hold, the old negative thoughts decrease in frequency.

    That decrease represents recovered Motivation: energy that had been diverted to coping but is now available for prospecting. Used correctly, Thought Zapping can actually provide a measurable increase in available prospecting power. Would that help you to move closer to making your sales goals and filling your pipeline for 2004?

    Straight from the Heart
    I have been selling for almost 25 years. I have been successful, won awards, made money, and advanced up the corporate executive ladder. During all this time, sales call reluctance hovered over me like a buzzing mosquito biting without warning. My escape route from call reluctance was through management. I had the best sales training and mentors but nothing touched the core of selling–that is being able to comfortably initiate contact on a consistent basis with prospective buyers. A lot of salespeople will continue to hide, deny, and suppress their call reluctance fears. For those who will allow themselves to open their minds and to admit to the possibility that call reluctance may be limiting their ability to achieve sales performance (and do something about it), 2004 will no doubt be a stellar sales year.

    Good Selling!

 

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All I Really Need to Know about Sales I Learned in Kindergarten

By Cathy Jackson, Sales Coach, Sales Champions

Many of you probably remember the best-selling book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum. It’s uncanny how his book on “uncommon thoughts on common things” was a hit and read by millions. After enjoying this book a decade ago, I decided to add it to my summer reading list. Kicked back on a warm, sunny afternoon reading Mr. Fulghum’s musings, it occurred to me how these fundamental things learned in kindergarten can be applied to a sales professional selling enterprise software–no, really!

Sales Fundamentals–Forgotten

Share everything: Remember, that you are part of a “selling team.” This team is made up of your sales peers, administrative support, technical support, and your manager. It’s your job to orchestrate these resources as needed to solve your customer’s enterprise problems and make new sales. By sharing what you know, your team mates can help support you better and perhaps give you fresh ideas that may reduce your sales cycle time, help you be more productive, and close more sales. And, maybe your experiences shared can help one of your colleagues improve their selling skills.

Play fair: Your employer has hired you to find new opportunities for selling enterprise software. This means your days should be filled with prospecting, engaging with customers, and closing business. If you are spending too much time learning about products, surfing the Internet, reading emails, organizing your files, commiserating with your peers and colleagues, than you aren’t doing what you were hired to do. That’s not fair to the company making an investment in you.

Don’t hit people: Never, never, never knock your competition. Once when selling business equipment systems, I won a sale only because my competition gave the prospect fraudulent information about my product which the prospect checked out. Today, with so many mergers, alliances, and coopetition, learn how to position your competitors by emphasizing your enterprise software’s strengths and differences.

Put things back where you found them: Time is your most valuable asset. When you are disorganized and can’t find things you waste time. Simplify your work area; get rid of those magazines that have been piling up for months that you are never going to read. Get focused on selling and don’t let anyone get you off track.

Clean up your own mess: “I would have won that deal if I had better products.” I lost because of price.” “If customer service would get it’s act together, than I could win more sales.” Ever heard comments like these from software sales professionals after losing a sale? You never lose if you learn from your mistakes. You never learn from your mistakes if you don’t “replay” the call to see what you could have done more effectively. Take responsibility for your own actions and for developing your sales skills.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody: I missed a business appointment recently and when calling to explain why, I heard myself give “excuses” of why I didn’t make the appointment. The truth was I just forgot about it. I did say I was sorry repeatedly but I feel like I have a strike against me with this new prospect. I would feel much better about the relationship if I had fessed up and told the truth. Now I feel like the relationship is not on solid ground. The lesson learned is that no matter how hard it is, it’s better to be honest. Then when you say you’re sorry, you feel a lot better and your integrity is intact.

Wash your hands before you eat: Take time to eat nutritiously while on the road. At a recent tradeshow, I was meeting with a prospect over breakfast. This true “road warrior” was having the “lean slim breakfast” and skim milk with his decaffeinated coffee while I was chomping down a three-egg cheese omelet. I rationalized that if I traveled as much as he did, I would be eating like him too. It’s important to eat right while on the road and wash your hands before you eat.

Flush: As Zig Ziglar would say, “get rid of that stinking thinking.” Remember that what you do is a result of how you feel which is a result of what you say to yourself. If you want to change non-productive behaviors than you have to change what you do by changing how you feel by changing what you say to yourself.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. On a recent business trip, I noticed how many of the weary “business” travelers were enjoying ice cream and McDonald French fries while waiting for flights to whisk them home. It’s okay to reward yourself with things that make you feel good.

Live a balanced life–learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some: Keeping fit helps you muster up the energy for that one last call. Your family puts life back in perspective and loves you when it seems nobody else does. Studies done by Behavioral Science Research Press, Inc. (BSRP) on top-producing salespeople brought up the role of religious faith in sales success. These top performers insisted that this be included in the study. They felt that believing their “future is in better hands than their own” was an important aspect of their career management strategy.

Take a nap every afternoon: Safety and Rescue (SAR) organizations teach the importance of taking naps when working sustained operations. They stress how naps greatly increase performance. Here are some facts about minimum nap times: (a) 1 minute at a time, total sleep 5 hours does not restore alertness. (b) 10 minutes at a time, minimum sleep to restore alertness. (c) 20 minutes optimal nap time for a fragmented sleep schedule. SAR states that naps are good anytime. A nap during the drop in alertness that naturally occurs mid afternoon is good. Prophylactic napping (naps before sleep deprivation expected) are also useful. Usually on the order of two hours worth of napping or extra sleep. The point here is that to be your best, get your rest.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together: Prepare for every sales call. Set your commitment objective for the call and then develop questions that equip you with the information needed to sell your enterprise software and how to sell it. If you are selling in a team, review the call plan with your sales partner, so they know your commitment objective and don’t get the call off track. Prepare for any possible roadblocks that may come up. Don’t wing your sales call.

Be aware of wonder: I moved to a mountain community, which is abundant with wild flowers. When taking walks, I see new flowers (or weeds–I can’t tell the difference) and I find myself saying, “I wonder what that is.” I should buy a book that will identify all these plants but I just keep wondering. How many times do you “wonder” about things during the day? You may say, “I wonder if my prospect has looked at the proposal yet”. I wonder if my competition is calling on them”? I wonder if I should follow-up again”? If you hear yourself “wondering” all the time, then it’s time to pick up the phone and just ask.

And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned–the biggest word of all–LOOK: Always prospect. There are new customers all around you–be aware of your surroundings and always tell people about what you do. You never know who may know somebody who can get you in a door. When riding around, jot down notes of new businesses opening up, or buildings under construction. Read the business sections of the newspapers and trade magazines and make contact with people in the news. Keep “looking” for new business opportunities–everywhere.

Since great salespeople are sometimes great storytellers, here’s Robert Fulghum’s Storyteller’s Creed. You may agree with his or create your own.

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.

The Terror of Cold Calling

By Wendy Weiss, Sales Trainer, Sales Coach, and Author, Weiss Communications

The Terror of Cold Calling. But fear not! Here are: Top Ten Tips for Terminating Telephone Terror

1. Make telephone calls
Few things are more terrifying than the unknown. The fear you create for yourself is far worse than the reality of cold calling. Once you start making telephone calls and continue making telephone calls, it gets easier. You overcome fear by doing.

2. Make a lot of telephone calls
If you have only one prospect to pursue, that prospect becomes overwhelmingly important. If you have hundreds of leads, no one prospect can make or break you. The more calls you make, the more success you will have.

3. Prepare
Prepare for cold calling the way you would for any major presentation. Know what you want to say, how you want to say it and how you want to represent yourself, your company, your product or service. And know the goal of your telephone call.

4. Practice
If you are new to cold calling or uncomfortable with cold calling, practice your pitch out loud. Role-play with friends or colleagues. Practice various sales scenarios. This way, you will not have to worry about what you are going to say. You will be prepared, and you can focus in on your prospect.

5. Start with less important leads
It will be good practice and less stressful. Once you feel more comfortable, start working on the more important leads.

6. Stay calm
You will, for the most part, be talking to people who will appreciate your call. If a prospect is rude, remember: This is not personal. They may just be having a bad day. Move on.

7. Your priorities and your prospect’s priorities are different
You want an immediate “yes”; your prospect may want to finish a report, finish a conversation, start their vacation… Be very careful not to read negative or extra meaning into early conversations with your prospect or prospect’s secretary. If, for example, your prospect’s secretary says that your prospect is “on the phone,” “in a meeting” or “out of the office,” that does not translate to, “My prospect knows that I am calling and is avoiding me.”

8. Some things are out of your control
If a prospect does say “no,” ultimately, that is out of your control—but what is within your control is continuing to prospect and continuing to make calls. It is also within your control to improve your cold calling skills, take seminars, read books or hire a coach—then, fewer prospects will say “no.”

9. Arlene’s Game
The object of Arlene’s game is to focus on rejection. The goal is to reach 100 points. You get 1 point for every rejection. Give yourself 1 point for every “no” answer. If your prospect says “yes,” that’s a bonus! Focus on acquiring points. The more calls you make, the more points you acquire. When you reach 100—You Win! Give yourself a prize!

10. Have fun
This is not life or death—it’s only a cold call. The fate of the world does not rest on you and your telephone. You will not destroy your company or ruin your life if a prospect says “no.” Loosen up, be creative, have some fun!