One of my sales managers, Cindy, was straddling that fine line of giving her salesperson support while raising his level of sales expertise and self-awareness. The salesperson had just lost three consecutive deals, and was experiencing self-doubt and frustration.
So he was trying to make himself feel better by giving the usual excuses:
- The company’s prices are too high.
- I don’t have enough qualified leads.
- I have the worst prospects in the company, in the world.
My very sharp sales manager recognized his emotional state and slippage into victim thinking, blaming everyone and everything for his lack of sales success. She empathized with the salesperson’s frustration and self-doubt. Then she asked the powerful coaching question:
“What part of these failed deals do you need to own?”
The salesperson was puzzled, wondering what kind of question was that. I am a victim of circumstances out of my control!
Cindy asked a few more ownership questions:
- What could you have done to better prepare for these meetings?
- What could you do to generate more qualified leads?
- Are the company’s prices too high, or do you and I need to spend more time developing compelling questions and skills to sell value?
- Do you have the worst prospects, or do you need to invest more time in clarifying the psychographics and demographics of your best prospects?
These coaching questions helped the salesperson become aware that he was the owner of his success and in full control of future sales calls. Because……
That which you do not own, you cannot change.
Salespeople that don’t own their success remain victims rather than victors of their lives.
Sales managers teach your sales team that it’s OK to be disappointed and frustrated. What’s not OK is renting a room and staying at that place. Encourage a short pity party and then move to another party, one where the salesperson takes control of future sales success. Salespeople control their sales success by:
- Asking for more help from your sales managers and peers.
- Studying more effective ways to sell and influence.
- Knowing the competition and figuring out gaps in their offerings.
Ownership. It’s one of the most powerful skills you can teach your sales team. Because that which you do not own you cannot change.