It’s funny the way #millennials get grouped into this category of people that don’t want to work hard, don’t want to work their way up, but will continuously expect greatness and to be valued. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m a millennial, whether I want to admit it sometimes or not. However, I am very hardworking, have usually held down 2+ jobs since the age of 16, and am very content with my title of “Manager” because I understand that in my realm of experience, graduating to a Director level would be premature given my experience in my industry. However, I do expect greatness and to be valued. I think everyone does.
In that line of thought, and being the English major that I was, I’ve been thinking significantly of the values given toward words and phrases. For instance, a word is simply a collection of letters, strung together, with a common understanding of what those words, in that order, mean. Conventional wisdom gives it meaning, and sometimes that can help or hurt you. What we might consider a cuss word in the US, is used frequently as a commonplace “fun” word in the UK. We give the words power by how they are used.
This fails you just as much when it comes to labeling.
With the beginning of the calendar year and most companies’ Q1’s just a few weeks ago, I’ve been turning over some of my leads that have quarterly, semi-annually or annually set call backs. Why? Because they asked for it. When explaining these concepts to my boss or my intern, I get faces when I use certain words, and frankly, it’s gotten to me. So here’s what I’ve found that will, undoubtedly, ruin what you have in your sales plan. If you keep to labels, that is.
1. “Can you just send me an email?” is obviously code for “I’m never going to give you my business, so bye”
Yes, let’s start here. First of all, no. Second of all, you’re in sales! How are you going to ignore this?! I’ve worked for such a myriad of companies and managers that have said this phrase, but I’ve also had this phrase used on me, and have used it as my foot in the door. Are there some people that do this? Yeah, absolutely. But they’re not the rule anymore. In this game of social selling on top of your traditional selling model, comparison shopping is your obvious enemy. What I have found, is that your prospects are much more likely to investigate a product or service and compare it to your competitors when you actually give them something. Think about it – if this phrase has become the accepted rule for losing an account, then what do you have to lose by sending out that information and following up? Maybe your competitor didn’t send that email or forward a link or two with explanations. Maybe your competitor has tried to use failed marketing attempts and now they’re blacklisted from your prospect’s server. MAYBE… you need to be human and do what is asked, so that they’ll recall that this potential deal is on their terms, and you could have that sale, but with maybe 20% more time invested in the sales cycle.
2. “I don’t have it in my budget this quarter, but try again next quarter” – clearly they hate you and your company and your dog.
Again, first of all, no. Have you ever made a list of things you need to do? Have you ever prioritized that list? And have you ever moved things based on timing and circumstance for those priorities? Well – businesses do that, too. I’ve met many sales people that will try and guilt the prospect into a meeting, even though they’re all well aware that there will be no budget. At least not now. How about asking your prospect when it would be a better time to call back and guide them? My favorite is “Ok, that sounds great. So your next quarter starts April 1st, and it looks like the week before I’m wide open on Tuesday and Wednesday. Let’s do it then, so that way when your budget opens, you have the information readily available and it’s fresh. Morning or afternoon?” Simple, easy, effective. You’re still giving them choices, but you’re not using a guilt trip and you’re keeping their limitations in mind. That’s key. Plus, who hates dogs?
3. That company is way too (insert adjective here. Popular options: big, small, corporate, lenient, conservative, liberal, etc.). I won’t even bother.
Why? Do you not like money? Did the President and CEO shoot your father in cold blood? (Disclaimer: if there really is someone reading this who had their father shot by a President and CEO of a company, I seriously don’t know you, and didn’t want to offend you. Please don’t hate me.) Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed today? Yeah, I don’t care. You should be ready to tackle any deal, because you shouldn’t limit yourself. Sometimes the company that is the most opposite of you is the most easily understood. Let’s say you’re a rancher, and you have a fantastic farm on top of your cattle. You’re known for your cattle, and love a good steak. Are you going to want to sell to the little vegan shop in your town? Not even a little bit. But – what’s to say the little vegan shop isn’t looking for a more moderately priced vendor for veggies? You may be known for your cattle, but your produce is just as exquisite. By holding your potential prospect’s purse strings, you just lost out on a potentially great deal. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t sell to someone because they’re too _____. You can’t sell to someone because you’re not trying.
All of the concepts I just detailed are things I see far too often. I even succumb to one or another every so often. I’m not perfect. However, it’s true for what’s in my title – labels are for jars. If you try to systematically and categorically label everything in your job, especially for sales, you lose your creativity and you’re not thinking outside of the box. Technology is ever changing, so your mind has to adapt. Teach it ways to rebuke the system so that whenever there’s a systematic failure, you’re automatically NOT systematically following suit.