Sales Training. Never make anyone feel stupid.
Even writing this sentence I can’t believe it needs to be said…but it does. I was sitting in a conference room once with a sales rep and six high value prospects. Our prospect Paul, who had organized the meeting and was spearheading the project said to his colleagues, “If we go ahead with their product, we can decide later if we just want to purchase it outright or partner so they get a royalty on every one we sell.” We never had, or planned on, working on a royalty arrangement with any of our customers. But our prospect didn’t know that. And it wasn’t his fault. Paul just made an assumption based on the way he had worked with other vendors. That didn’t stop my sales rep from blurting out, “We never do royalty agreements.”
I felt the money evaporating from my wallet. And I saw the look on Paul’s face go from surprise to embarrassment and straight to anger. Our rep had made Paul look bad (and stupid for not doing his homework) in front of his peers.
How would you feel if your boss called you into a meeting where the whole company was waiting and proceeded to tell everyone there how stupid you were for not dressing correctly at work? Based on the way you had been dressing, and the way everyone else dressed, you thought you were doing the right thing. What a jerk to do that to you.
When you are in a situation where a prospect or a customer says something that is not correct or just plain stupid, stay silent and nod your head. You will have plenty of time after the meeting to go over the options in private. Let’s say, in the example above, it’s a final meeting with Paul and you will not have another chance to make the decision maker(s) aware that what Paul is saying is not accurate. Simply say: “Those are a couple of options. Let me explain why our customers purchase outright rather than want a royalty agreement.” If your reasoning is sound, everyone will nod their head in agreement. Why would they want to do something different from what your other “successful” customers had done?
Situations obviously vary, but your approach and attitude should be the same.
Sales Homework – Please repeat these points to yourself and list three more:
- I never correct my prospects or customers in public.
- I keep my mouth shut when they say something incorrect or stupid.
- “It’s better to keep my mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and leave no doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln
Sales Managers – When going through this lesson really emphasize how putting a customer down can be damaging to their income and yours.