A Sale by Any Other Name

Guest Post Monday! Today we hear from Tibor Shanto of Renbor Sales Solutions.  He is an author and sales consultant who helps countless companies. I encourage you to check out his blog and to listen in on his below insights.

Words and semantics play a big role in sales and sales professionals’ success.  They can either accelerate a sale or grind it to a halt. They can be used to clarify or misdirect. Often their effectiveness is only as good as the person using or misusing them.

The one thing they cannot consistently mask or cover is intent. Buyers should and often can sense a disconnect between what someone is saying and underlying intent.  Sometimes, though, a buyer’s agenda is to not deal with something. So instead of addressing that issue, they will allow the sellers to weave a tapestry of words they find comfort in, even when they know it’s not a real solution.

You see this a lot in the area of selling sales enablement tools.  Sales organizations and their leaders know they need to address issues. They often know what those issues are and the solutions required, but they don’t want to face them head on.  Instead, they allow someone to paint them an appealing picture with all the buzzwords allowing them to “take steps,” but not “take real actions to address the real issues.”

This challenge has been somewhat accentuated by some great new Web 2.0 tools, which in the wrong hands can lead to unanticipated results.  To frame the discussion, I have to confess that having been through a number of iterations of “the new way,” “the new wave,” and “the next big thing,” it always seems to have come back to who can consistently grow revenue, client base and client satisfaction/loyalty.

Further, this has usually come down to who is willing to be proactive and do what it takes to make and get the sale vs. those who prefer to be reactive and wait to get the order.  Both can look busy, but only one is consistently productive — the former proactive group.

Seems people do not like to be called reactive. They don’t seem to mind being it, but they don’t want to be called on it.  I was recently asked to present at a trade show. I was asked to speak about trigger events, which is the topic of my book.  Wanting to build out from the usual, I suggested that waiting for events was a reactive process. Despite all the things one can do to ready themselves, they had to wait for “the event” before they can act.  I was suggesting that it was the job of the salesperson to be proactive and make things happen rather than just wait.  A proactive salesperson will look for ways to “trigger” things, be they events, reactions, etc.

Some with skin in the reactive game took offense, pointing out that anticipating the event, getting ready for it, and developing a network that will help them identify the event and maybe even get them a front row seat for the event, all constituted being proactive.  The one point they could not address was the “having to wait for the event.”  They had no response to, “What if I can initiate an engagement with the prospect before ‘the event’?”

There was the usual argument about the “status quo” and buyers not buying in status quo.  However, status quo is a state that can be changed, and it is up to the sales professional to do that rather than wait for ‘”the event.” (Is that show still on or did NBC cancel it?)

This is where the word games come in.  Unable to address the underlying point, they changed the semantics.  I was informed that salespeople waiting were not reactive, but rather responsive to the buyer’s needs. Right!  How could I miss that?

Well, because the underlying intent did not change.  Their intent was to sell product to reactive salespeople, to appease their inaction by putting a positive spin on it.  Who would argue with being responsive to buyers’ needs?  I would, especially if it diminishes or interferes with your ability as a sales professional to grow revenue, client base and client satisfaction/loyalty; and at the same time prevents your potential buyer from achieving their own objectives in the process.

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