We live in the information age. Salespeople have access to more information than ever to help them succeed, such as webinars, podcasts and a gazillion sales books. So with all this knowledge, why do sales organizations still face the same selling challenges as 20 years ago? Challenges such as:
- Gaining access to the decision makers
- Selling value, not price
- Writing proposals for unqualified prospects
- Being in chase mode
Here’s why: Sales managers often work on the wrong end of the problem. To overcome selling challenges, they resort to teaching more hard selling skills. It’s time for a reality check. Most salespeople know what to do. But during tough selling situations, they allow emotions, rather than effective selling and influence skills, to run the sales meeting. It’s the knowing-and-doing gap.
Every salesperson knows she is supposed to ask questions, listen, provide thoughtful insights and be a trusted advisor. But if she gets in front of a challenging, intimidating prospect, her reptilian brain takes over, and she defaults to fight-or-flight behavior.
Fight behavior is just what it sounds like. The salesperson gets defensive or nervous. She defaults to a product dump, more commonly known as “show up and throw up.” Or a salesperson can experience a flight response. This is like a scene from the famous sales movie, “Tommy Boy.” “Okey dokey. I’m outta here.” Neither response results in closed business.
Here are three tips to help your sales team members manage their emotions to avoid fight-or-flight responses.
- Get some downtime each day to reflect. What triggers are going to show up today? What response will I choose?
- Name the emotion. When you are getting emotionally charged, the old brain is running the show, not the logical brain. By simply naming the emotion, you gain control. “I am feeling nervous. I am feeling defensive.”
- Change your story. Ask yourself this powerful question and apply the EI skill of empathy: “What else is going on? Is the prospect really a jerk or just under a lot of pressure?” Change your story and you will change your emotions, which changes the outcome of the meeting.
Keep teaching and coaching hard selling skills. Incorporate soft skills into your sales training programs because they help with the execution of hard selling skills.
Join me February 4 for Dave Stein's Sales Executive Series webcast - I will provide more insight on bridging the knowing and doing gap by integrating hard sales skills training and soft skills training.