Most salespeople can improve sales effectiveness by changing their beliefs and moving out of their comfort zone.
My wife took me to a Vegan restaurant for lunch and I ordered a sandwich that consisted of coconut, lettuce and tomato on multi-grain bread. I not only didn’t hate it, I liked it. I showed my wife that it had bacon in it and she swore it didn’t. She suggested I ask the owner so I asked him about the bacon and he explained that he prepared the coconut flakes to have the look, taste and texture of bacon. Fake bacon.
There are fake salespeople too.
Perhaps you’ve heard of “fake it ’til you make it.” The best example is when you ask someone how they’re doing and they respond with, “Living the Dream.” I call total BS on that. Most wealthy people don’t talk about how much money they have, most connected people don’t drop names, and most successful people don’t talk about how successful they are. Those who do are either faking it, or they make attempts to impress others to feel better about themselves because they have low self-esteem.
If you have seen Larry Levine’s LinkedIn posts, watched his “Selling from the Heart” podcast, or read his book by the same name, his messaging about being true to yourself and authentic when selling would be familiar. Selling in your own voice is important! (Watch his February 11, 2023 interview with me.)
There is another side to consider. When my team is training salespeople, we are challenging them to leave their comfort zone and do what they have been unable or unwilling to do in the past.
For example, Bob has never been comfortable having a financial conversation with his prospects. Data from Objective Management Group (OMG), which has assessed more than 2.4 million salespeople, shows that 92% of the weakest salespeople find talking about money extremely difficult while only 8% of the strongest salespeople share this discomfort. The best salespeople are 1150% more effective at being comfortable talking about money, which is one of the twenty-one sales core competencies that OMG measures. Read more about Bob and his ongoing struggles.
Bob’s difficulty talking about money prevents him from making sure that his prospects can not only afford his solution, but are willing to part with their money, and since Bob’s solutions are more expensive than his competition, it becomes impossible for him to create enough value to justify his higher prices. As a result of skipping the financial conversation, he regularly proposes solutions that prospects can’t justify, giving him a win rate of less than 15%.
Consider our training challenge for Bob to move beyond his comfort zone and have a financial conversation, along with Larry Levine’s message that we be true to ourselves and sell authentically. There would seem to be a conflict. If Bob does what is uncomfortable he isn’t being authentic, and if he stays true to himself, he isn’t being effective. What’s a Bob to do?
There is a way for Bob to leave his comfort zone and be authentic at the same time.
If he wanted to be both effective and authentic, he would simply say, “Most of the people I meet with hate being asked about money, and I hate asking even more, but to make sure that neither of waste any unnecessary time, is it OK if we talk about value and costs?”
By admitting the discomfort Bob is being true to himself and by asking permission to discuss finances he puts himself in a position to be more effective.
It’s not coconut flakes but it’s not bacon either – at least not the bacon you can eat because it’s still kind of raw. But if you start with raw bacon and allow it bake in the oven, over time you’ll have the real deal. Authentic. True to himself.
Can you identify an area in which you can improve sales effectiveness yet still be true to yourself?
It will immediately make you better!
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