As a small business owner, our mortgages, our cars, our families, our LIVES, can hinge on our business and our ability to sell and generate revenue. We take that incredibly personally and the stress and fear of losing a customer or blowing a sale can lead us to inject those anxieties into our sales processes.
Recently, I was working with a business owner on her sales process. She had engaged a prospective new client and we were discussing the next steps to close this large opportunity. She was nervous, understandably, and she really wanted and needed this account and all the working capital and credibility it would bring.
In talking about her opportunity, she mentioned several times what a “big deal” this was for the customer and it was a “major investment” that they were contemplating. I stopped her and asked her “How do you know this is such a ‘BIG DEAL’ or a ‘MONUMENTAL’ investment for them?”
She sat back and said, “Well, they’re taking a while to consider it . . . um, they haven’t signed yet . . . and . . . I assume it’s a big deal for them.”
I paused and let her search for more validation before I asked, “Is this a really big deal for them, or is this a really big deal for YOU?”
Granted, it could be a huge decision for the customer, but she didn’t know exactly what positive business outcomes meant to them. What she was doing was injecting her fear and desperation into the situation, projecting the magnitude of decision and investment on to her prospective customer. It’s kind of like boarding a plane with lead luggage – baggage that weighs everyone down.
She was letting HER emotions and insecurities get before her comprehension of her customer’s attitude or feelings about the significance of this purchase. We are extremely perceptive to desperation and fear and as buyers, it turns us off. We begin to doubt the intentions or authenticity of what or why you’re selling us when doubt creeps in, it erodes trust.
Fear and its ugly cousin, Insecurity, are the roots of most self-sabotage. If you find yourself “dragging your baggage” with you into your sales opportunities and projecting your fear into your buyer’s process, ask if one of these reasons is why:
- Do you fear of not being worthy of this success?
- Is “Imposter Syndrome telling you that you’re not talented enough to deliver results?
- Are you projecting your own financial insecurities on the investment?
- Do you lack confidence in your product or solution?
- Or, is your desperation making a mountain out of a molehill?
Did any of these touch a nerve for you? We’re not going to apply our Psychology Degree from Google University here (however, you can find many helpful resources out there). These can often be deeply rooted in life experiences or our childhood upbringing.
What we can offer, however, is a strategy to get out of your own way and prevent self-sabotage from killing or slowing your sales opportunities.
To understand the significance of this purchase, ask your buyers these key questions:
- What brought them to this point of searching for products or solutions?
- What conditions have changed in their business environment?
- Are they unhappy with their current vendor or suppliers?
- Are they seeking competitive advantage?
- Where are they in their search?
- Have they formed or developed budget guidelines?
- Have they created buying or product criteria?
- Who will have input in the decision?
- Are they actively seeking or comparing other products/suppliers?
- Ask how purchasing from your (or not) factors into their business goals.
- Do you help generate revenue?
- Do you decrease costs?
- Do you improve productivity?
Practice How and When you’ll use these questions in the discovery phase of your Sales Process and you will avoid and potentially eliminate the self-sabotage that sinks relationships and deals.
Buyers want solutions, collaboration, partnerships, expertise . . . not your excess baggage. Having the confidence to “travel lighter” keeps the focus on helping your buyers reach their objectives.
About the Author:
Shawn Karol Sandy helps small businesses deeply differentiate their offers. As the Chief Revenue Officer of The Selling Agency, Shawn helps small businesses develop go-to-market strategies to build competitive advantages that increase revenue. Her bold and cheeky approach to selling helps small businesses level the playing field with their competition in highly competitive, highly commoditized, and mature industries.