I was down with COVID last week. Nothing serious, I’m lucky enough not to have any serious ailments that put me at risk from having COVID. I did take the week off to recover though, hence why there was no weekly sales fix last week.
I mention this because one of the realizations that hit me during my sick week, was the sheer amount of beliefs and information I thought I was up to date on about COVID, until I actually got COVID and had to deal with it. This makes for a nice parallel to the world of sales and calling on clients. We think we know what they deal with, and what their reality is, and the more we think that, the more we need to verify through questioning and listening.
It was Mark Twain who once quipped, “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”.
In 2007, all the experts KNEW for sure that the US housing market was a sure bet. In the 1400’s, all of the experts KNEW that the world was flat. In 2022, I thought I knew what creates a COVID risk, what medicines work most effectively and why. I thought I knew. Plenty of experts had offered expert opinions. Many of those experts have never treated anyone with COVID, or treated anyone at all in fact. My reality once I was living it, and talking to people offering treatment options was somewhat different.
This isn’t an email designed to initiate a debate about COVID. Do your own research. This is a reminder that what YOU THINK YOU KNOW about your clients, about why they buy from you, about what they are dealing with, are all things that need constant and regular validation. They might still be correct beliefs. They might also be out of date. Don’t trust the talking heads and business analysts offering their opinions online or on TV. TALK to your clients and prospects. Ask questions. LISTEN to their answers. Ask clarification questions when their answers are vague or unclear.
I am convinced that a great part of what makes me an effective sales trainer is that I still regularly sell. I make cold calls, I negotiate contracts, I try to save cancellations and buyer’s remorse scenarios. I know what works because I live it, like many others. But there are also many others who’ve not done recent research and are talking a good game about how one should start a sales conversation, even though they themselves haven’t made a cold call in numerous years. Don’t be one of those people to your clients.
The intent of a cold call should be to get their perspective, not push your perspective on them. That shift makes a world of difference.