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Sales is a transfer of emotion. If we are nervous, our customer will be nervous. If we are aggressive, which means we don’t really care, we are just there for the order, our customers will be defensive. When we are calm and prepared, our customers will have a sense of calm and will be open to our suggestions.
Easier said than done. The sales process is emotional. In addition to the sales process, in the lumber industry we have a market that moves, sometimes dramatically. This movement can affect our income. We do not have control of the market, which causes its own type of anxiety.
Preparation Is Key
As simple as this seems, most sellers are not prepared. They come to the customer and in one form or another and say, “Mrs. Customer, Whadya need today?” These sellers might as well push the “Treat me bad” button. They receive poor treatment and blame it on the customer. This is why a lot of sellers are miserable.
When we are not prepared, we don’t bring value. Our customers are busy. If we don’t bring them value, we are wasting their time. Time is money, so unprepared salespeople are stealing money from their potential customers. How do you treat someone who is stealing from you?
When we are prepared with ideas and products that make money for our customers, they will give us their attention. This does not mean that we get the order every time, but we will get a fair chance at their business.
Some customers are bullies. Some are whiners and complainers. Some have unreasonable demands. Emotional control is important with these types of customers. I remind my students that unreasonable customers are great! Why? Because they keep our competition away.
With these types of customers, we stay calm. We don’t jump on the emotional roller coaster with them. Nor are we intimidated. We know we can help them, so we are patient and unperturbed by their antics and stay the sales course.
Anyone can sell when they’re selling; it takes a real salesperson to sell when the going is rough. We are competitive. We want to win. Losing is hard. It can knock us off course. We have control of the sales process; the sales gods have control of the results.
Sales is similar to shooting a basketball or putting a golf ball. The best shooters and putters do not think about the result. They KNOW it’s going in. What they concentrate on is the stroke. Shooters and putters who struggle worry about making instead of focusing on the process. The same is true in sales. Master Sellers are always positive and confident. If they are on a cold streak, their attitude is, “This is the one. I will sell on this call.” They have a long memory for victories and an nonexistent memory for failure.
As weird as it seems, it’s important that we stay on course after getting the business. It’s fine to celebrate a victory, briefly, but then we need to get back on the horse and keep selling. When I got an order as a young salesperson, I would be so emotionally excited, I couldn’t focus for the rest of the day. I remember saying to a Master Seller, “Hey, I just got an order!!!” He deadpanned, “Great. Now go get another.”
Master Sellers know that “It’s not a question of if, but when we will lose our best customer.” Most sellers start looking for their umbrella when it starts to rain; Master Sellers have several umbrellas ready BEFORE it rains.
The majority of sellers do not prospect enough. They prospect for the first couple years, build an account box, then only prospect when they lose accounts. Master Sellers are always upgrading their account box.
If we don’t prospect our accounts own us. Good luck winning a negotiation with a customer who owns you. Master Sellers are free partners with their customers.
Our subconscious does not know the difference between the truth and what WE tell it. Great sellers are the king/queen of their own world. We must tell ourselves that we are great. This is not bragging—it’s psyching up for the challenge we face every day, on every call.