In a professional selling career, it's important not to label people. Do you ever think things about people before you have had a chance to really assess a situation?
"He's not a player"
"He's too old for a social selling strategy" “They will never change.” “They are kids running that company.”
These are real comments I have heard from sales reps in the past few weeks.
You might be right, but do you know for sure? This is where being like a detective can be valuable. Just like CSI detectives look for facts to back up an assumption or a hunch, you need to do the very same thing with your beliefs about your potential buyers, your existing clients, current partners and prospective referrers.
In the profession of selling, you CANNOT AFFORD to assume. It can cost you a deal, some recurring revenues, or even a long-term business relationship.
On the other hand it is fun to put people in boxes and it seems easier if we can just group and label everyone. Isn’t that more efficient?
But It Does Not Work
A couple of years ago, a sales manager I was coaching had labeled one of the sales reps on his team as “incapable of closing a deal”. Because he had this label in his mind, he helped the sales rep less and even showed some disdain (by his look) when the rep asked him questions or needed his help.
The rep picked up on his manager not supporting him and on his own, closed several deals. Once the deals were closed, his manager was all smiles – and eager to support the rep, but it was too late. The sales rep, feeling written off, left the company once he got his commission check. He took a pipeline of qualified opportunities with him.
It’s a Fine Line We Walk as People
Don’t think I’m immune from this because I’m not – we all make generalizations and assumptions as humans. We have fun listing people in a hierarchical sense. I know it has cost me deals in the past when I thought I knew everything and assumed I was right without validating the data.
This is the science and art part of selling – having a hunch - but also working to validate it. When you interview potential new sales reps, you can’t only go on hunches – if so you will never be better than 50% accurate – and that is not good enough.
Hunches are good – facts are way better. The combination is killer.
So – back to labeling people –
If you can look at someone without limits – and have conversations that teach you about who they are, what they are working to accomplish, and what is going on in their company, you will learn all you need to know to help them as a buyer – or to realize they will not be a good fit for your company and products / services.
We also label situations all the time. Maybe the person who you are calling names under your breath is just having a really horrible day. Your rush to judgment ruins your view of future potential.
Stop labeling and classifying people so that you miss that big opportunity. Become a student of psychology and communication. Ask better questions. If you do, you’ll widen your net and gain more opportunities which will lead to more business.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the "Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.