If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you’ve probably seen the ones talking about the different essential traits that I believe you need to possess to excel in sales.
I came up with an acronym that both lists these traits and embodies what a salesperson does. They use their knowledge and experience to lead people in the right direction and help them make the best decisions.
That acronym is SHERPA. I’ve already covered Skeptical, Helpful, Empathetic, Resolute, and Practiced. (I’ll include a list with links below.)
The last vital trait to be a Sales Sherpa is accepting, especially accepting of things you cannot control.
In sales, you have to learn to accept a lot.
But this is one trait that most other salespeople don’t talk about or use themselves.
Too often, salespeople are told to follow-up with prospects endlessly, don’t take no for an answer, and try to sell everyone you meet.
And we wonder why they don’t trust us.
For years, I did the same. It’s what I was taught and trained to do in my early sales roles. Every single time a prospect said no, I would beat myself up about what I must have done wrong or what I must have missed. No matter how much I improved, how much more I learned about selling, I still struggled every time I heard ‘no.’
But between further improvement in my selling processes and techniques and gaining more confidence in myself in all of my different roles, I slowly started to realize that there’s nothing you can do to make somebody say yes. We don’t have mind control. Even when we do influence somebody to change their mind or say yes to something they weren’t planning on purchasing, it’s still their decision. We might have just helped them come to it.
The more you realize you have no direct control over their decision, the easier it is to accept their answer.
Even more important than just accepting it, though, we need to go back to empathy.
Sometimes, saying no really is the best decision for them. Maybe we work in a way that doesn’t work for them. Perhaps their budget is too tight to support the expense. Or maybe they just plain and simple don’t want it.
Instead of trying to change their mind, empathize with their decision and ask questions to figure out their reasoning. This can be enormously helpful for you because there may be a gap you missed and can fix, giving you the opportunity to work together. Or it might be something that you can adjust for your next prospect. Whatever it is, even if it has nothing to do with you, gaining some understanding will
In any other situation, you wouldn’t want to try and force yourself onto somebody else. Why is it okay in sales?
The obvious answer is that it’s not. It’s gross in any other aspect, and it’s just as disgusting in sales. It’s a massive part of what continues to give salespeople a bad name.
If you want to be a part of the solution, accept and respect your prospects’ decisions.
If we want to help people, we may have to go into the conversation being skeptical about their answers. That leads us to ask more questions until enough trust is built up from both sides to determine their real pains and needs.
But no matter how great their needs are or how much we can help them, they have to accept the help before they can give you a comfortable and eager yes. If the motivation isn’t there, or if the pains or needs aren’t great enough, you shouldn’t want them to say yes. They’re not qualified to be a great client.
Here’s the thing: when you can learn to accept that you can’t change people’s minds, it’s going to make your life a lot easier, in and out of sales.
Luckily, you CAN control plenty of things that will make accepting a no a lot easier.
- You can control how full your pipeline is, especially since there’s a volume component to sales anyway. No salesperson ever closed every single deal. And with a robust enough pipeline, the pressure to try is significantly lessened.
- You can control your CRM. When you do a great job of notating your actions and process, you’ll feel comfortable knowing you’re doing everything you should be.
- You can control your process. If you follow a regular strategy with every prospect, then you’ll decrease the opportunities for them to say no for the wrong reasons. Know what objections you’re likely to encounter, and include questions in your process that address them before they make a decision. It’s not mind-control, but it does increase your chances of making the sale.
- You can control your reactions and emotions. Even if you don’t understand their reasons for turning you down, you can still keep the possibility for future work or referrals open as long as you accept the no gracefully.
Acceptance is a skill we all have to learn. No child is born being able to quietly accept a no from a parent when they ask for a cookie.
In sales, you’re going to get a lot of noes, probably more noes than yesses. But if you’re good at what you do, you already know that, and you’re prepared for it. If you’re great, then you make sure every one of your prospects knows that they can honestly tell you no. That alone will make them more open to talking to you more than any other salesperson they’ve dealt with. And who knows, it will probably make at least some of them less likely to turn you down.
Previous SHERPA Blog Posts:
Helpful: Salespeople are Helpers Too
Empathetic: Empathy in Salespeople
Resolute: The Resolute Salesperson
Practiced: Why We All Need a Sales Dojo