Salespeople echo all the time how they create solutions for their clients when in actuality, they try to control the sales process through the end.
I was half way through a weekly coaching call with my client Denise when the topic of controlling the sales process came up.
“We try to control as many things as possible to reduce risk. And by definition, risk is synonymous with danger, hazard or threat.”
“As such, we believe that the more we attempt to control our risks in any situation, whether is the risk of losing a sale or the risk of having our children grow up without the right guidance, ethics or values, we would be able to then keep that which we fear happening most at bay.
“The myth is, the more we attempt to control things, the more we can eliminate our greatest fears from coming to fruition.
Unfortunately, this paradigm and philosophy comes at a cost. You see, if you are trying to control, for example, a sales call and the outcome you desire, there is one thing that you cannot be doing. And that is, you cannot be creating. And the ability to be creative is one of the most important attributes of a sales professional. After all, it is your job to create new and better solutions for your prospects!”
Control vs. Creation
I gave Denise a few examples on how control and creation were polar opposites.
• Control is an attempt to generate predictable, expected results. Creation is open to new possibilities and generating unpredictable results.
• Control is rigid. Creation is fluid and evolving.
• Control is based on achieving a certain outcome in the future. Creation can only happen in the present moment.
• Control is focusing on a known outcome. Creation has no agenda to the final outcome.
As you can see, if you are attempting to control the outcome or the sales call, then you cannot be creating new possibilities in the moment. As such, if you are focused on what you want to control, then you will miss out on uncovering or recognizing a new and better opportunity to turn a prospect into a client. Conversely, if you are in a constant state of creation, then you are going to allow new possibilities and solutions to surface naturally.
Finding the Right Balance
Selling is the art of creating new possibilities and solutions. Salespeople are responsible for the creation rather than the controlling of solutions for their prospects. As such if you are a highly creative salesperson, then there is no need for you to attempt to control the outcome.
“But Keith,” Denise responded, “If I’m in a constant state of creativity, don’t I need some structure to support it? I mean, should I toss out my entire sales process, routine and goals?”
“Not at all,” I stated. “However, I can see where the confusion is. Remember, just like any belief or process, the proverbial pendulum can swing to either side as an extreme, rather than a balance. You certainly want to honor your daily routine, your sales process as well as your goals. However, you are not going to do so to the point where they have your gripped and are controlling you. Said a different way, when things change (whether it’s the market, your career, your prospects, your product or service and so on), that’s when you want to be flexible and adaptable to this change so that you can adjust your processes and strategies accordingly.
“After all, if you were working for a company that sold pagers, and you had a great presentation that allowed you to continually attain your sales goals, would you still be using the same approach when selling mobile phones? In essence, your marketplace has changed along with the needs of your clients.”
At this point, Denise was evolving at light speed. I could here her getting it. It had been a productive and enlightening call, helping her feel better about what she had to do.
Excerpt from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Closing the Sale by Keith Rosen. Reprinted with permission by Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Release Date, January, 2007.
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