You Have to Sometimes Lose to Win
Buying and selling is an exercise in decision-making. One of the most important mandates for a non-selling posture sales person, is to get customers to make decisions. Notice I did not say to get them to necessarily make affirmative "yes" decisions. It is unrealistic to expect to get "yes" answers all the time. However, it is not unrealistic to get customers to "get off the pot" and make either a "yes" or "no" decision.
Because traditional sales people do not give customers easy outs when appropriate, they too often get "yes to death" or get too many "nos" in the 11th hour. Frequently, sales people only see dollar signs plastered on the foreheads of customers and they proceed to act accordingly, resulting in deceptive stalls and evasions on the part of customers.
Statistically a 30% closing rate is considered very good in the profession. So the reality is 70% of your decisions are going to be a "no" decision. However, sales people are rarely getting the courtesy of negative news. Unfortunately, they are getting dead air with unreturned voice mails and emails resulting in "no" decisions by abstensia.
Do not be afraid to call a spade a spade. So when you know in your "heart of hearts" that the hand writing on the wall says that negative news is inevitable due to the predictable behavior that your customer is demonstrating, gently and professionally call your customer on it. Do not shy away from the truth. So often customers will waffle and be very indecisive and will kill you with kindness by "yesing" you to death. Yes we are interested. Yes we will do something soon. Yes we are committed to using you. Yes we are always open to new ideas, etc. At some point you have to bring the rubber to the road and get them to tell you the truth. Do not be afraid to superimpose "no" when it looks, feels and smells like a "no." Often when it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, it is a duck.
When your deals are stalled and your customer is incessantly AWOL, give them an incentive to tell you bad news with no hard feelings, no guilt, no trail of tears. A non-selling posture does not let agreeable or disagreeable outcomes and results upset a sales person's balance. You have to sometimes lose to win. Getting bad news early is winning.
Since 70% of your activity in sales is statistically for naught, learning to cut your losses can be just as important as winning deals. In the information economy, closing skills are about closing for either positive news or negative news. Remember, you have to get news one way or another. Being left in the dark is a real joy kill.
Customers bring intense expectations to sales engagements; either positive or negative. Sales people bring their own versions of intense expectations, and is it any wonder that sales interactions are rife with huge egos and counter productive expectations. The key for sales people is to neutralize the emotions of the expectations of both parties at the selling event. By leveling the playing field, engagements become far more realistic, truthful and grounded.
The non-selling posture is all about asserting in a professional manner what you want and do no want with balance. When you ask for what you want in a professional way, even if it is a stretch for your customer, it helps you be less needy and emotionally invested in the outcome of the sale. The silent killer in sales is rampant uncertainty.
Any parent relationship book will underscore the idea that if you truly love your child, you must be willing to set them free unconditionally. Not unlike the profession of selling. If you truly respect and value a prospect, you will let them go professionally and unconditionally when the circumstances call for it.