I have a lot of Facebook friends. Too many maybe. One thing is clear, there are only two camps when it comes to “RussiaGate” and who did what.
Camp One “KNOWS EXACTLY” what is going on. They really, really know. Whether they believe it all points to Trump’s team working with the Russians trying to usurp the American electoral process, or a “Deep State” trying to usurp the Trump agenda by leveraging a crooked intelligence community and an activist “liberal media". Camp1 has got it all figured out. There’s no doubt in their mind.
I place myself in Camp Two. I really wish I knew enough to be in Camp One, but I don’t. There is way too much under the radar for me to figure out what is really going on so I have stopped pretending I know, or even think I know. Color me bewildered. Which in a democracy is a really bad thing, but I digress.
All of this got me thinking about similar moments in my own personal sales career, when I found myself firmly in Camp One. Early on there were so many times that I absolutely “KNEW" that the customer was buying from me, and even though I had a good idea of when. Optimism was driving the bus and I was mentally cashing my commission check. Woo hoo, bring it on!
Here’s the thing. Sometimes I was right, but unfortunately more times than not, I was wrong. Have you been there? Have you felt this pain?
Here’s the thing you learn after you’ve been through this about 14 million times...
What a client says doesn’t always correlate to reality.
It’s not that they lie, it’s that the real truth is buried under some very nice words (usually just meant to avoid offense), body language, and many other subtle queues that no one can accurately read 100% of the time.
After you realize the awful truth about what you’re hearing, you can feel a bit lost. It can feel like you’re flailing about, counting on luck rather than some objective measure to know where to invest your time and energy. What should be a rifle becomes a shotgun. Life is ONLY “a numbers game”. Not fun. I know.
So what do you do? How do you really know so you can invest your time on BUYERS, rather than spreading your focus around and counting on luck and hope? How do you turn in a sales forecast to your manager or Board and not feel like a politician telling the electorate what it wants to hear?
For me the key has been to focus on FINDING REAL BUYERS by setting up filters, hoops if you will, that demonstrate by action not words that you are both on the same page. To use a cliche’, "what you do is more important that what you say”. Top salespeople know this and use it as an advantage and a guide on which deal to focus on and when.
Which leads me to the weakest phrase in selling: “Mr. Client, what do you think our next steps are?”
This is the worst close to a meeting of all time. Please, if you do nothing else after reading my blog, REMOVE THIS PHRASE from your vernacular FOREVER! Eradicate it. Neutralize it. Bomb it with thermonuclear devices!
Instead, realize that the end of a call or meeting should conclude with a decision of some kind. Help your client make that decision. Make it easy. Come armed with the kinds of YESES that you believe would move your client to the next step and then ask directly for commitment.
It takes a little thought before every meeting, you can’t just wing this. But trust me, it will create acceleration in the deals that have a chance and give you a clear view to the ones that don’t. And you can politely move away from those, or put them on the backburner.
I pray our current political saga will become as clear, but it will be determined by paying attention closely to actions, not words.