Tina had been working in her territory for more than 5 years and enjoyed being out and about visiting customers and calling on prospects before the COVID pandemic hit. In an instant, like many other salespeople, she went from being an outside sales rep to an inside sales rep overnight. Tina was uncomfortable and worried that she couldn’t make the adjustments in her selling style to be equally as successful as she was seeing people in person. She saw herself as a face-to-face salesperson who was great at building relationships.
Her call volume and activity were way down, and each month, it only got worse. Her manager, Mark, worked with her, trying to help her find her groove so that she can get back on the leaderboard where she had always held one of the top spots. When Mark asked her what was really going on, she gave him the following answers:
- I know my customers and they don’t answer calls from salespeople
- Cold-calling and prospecting before the pandemic were hard enough, trying to reach new prospects now is almost impossible
- In our industry, no one is spending any money right now as they are in wait-and-see mode
- In this environment, customers are only buying on price and not on value
Mark stopped Tina as she seemed like she had a larger list of why selling remotely doesn’t work, at least not for her. He then provided her with the following list, asking Tina what these things all had in common:
- Bats are blind
- Sharks don’t get cancer
- Elephants are afraid of mice
- Bulls become angry at the color red
- Goldfish have a 3-7 second memory
- Ostriches stick their head in the ground when they are scared
- A mother bird will reject its baby if it’s been touched by a human
Tina reviewed the list and commented that each statement included an animal or creature of some sort. Her manager asked her what else she observed. After a few minutes without Mark rescuing her, she noted that they were all myths. Mark acknowledged that she was indeed correct, each one was a myth. Then he said let’s go back and review your list of reasons why you cannot sell remotely. As they did this together, she realized that the reasons that she gave were largely myths themselves.
Mark shared that he has had the same conversation with the other salespeople on his team. And in each case, they recognized that their reasons sounded more like excuses and that they were myths for sure.
In a changing environment, it is easy for salespeople to be overcome by what might seem impossible. When we looked at some of the top-performing companies over the past couple of years, in the midst of the pandemic, we found that many companies experienced their best years ever. The salespeople on those teams figured out how to stay motivated and how to embrace the disruption of COVID, finding new ways to engage and sell. They recognized that they could actually make more calls and have more meetings than they could by seeing people in person.
They also recognized that their prospects and customers were answering their phones because they were also working remotely. The prospects and customers were also more likely to respond to emails. They figured out the best way to have virtual meetings, and they mastered their use of social media to prospect, build relationships, and sell. What these top-performing sales teams also found out was that their prospects and customer had money to spend. With everyone working from home, the budget used to fund large travel and entertainment expenses was now available to make key purchases that would help them solve a problem or achieve a goal.
Top performers realized that their value proposition was just as valid now – the pandemic didn’t change that. And they continued helping their customers to make a decision based on value, not discounting to get the business or win the deal.
As Mark and Tina finished their “Mythbusters” session, Mark’s final reminder was that the competition was still out there, and they were looking to steal business anywhere that they could. The competition wasn’t slowing down, it was actually heating up. And in a tight market, it was important that Tina and all the salespeople on Mark’s team amplified their mindset, their activity, and their skills so that they can win and win more often, especially the close ones.
We can either let the myths bust us, or we can bust the myths when it comes to selling. The good news is that we get to make that choice. We can either choose to overcome those thoughts and myths that keep us from making sales calls, or we can choose to buy into the negative self-talk that will soon have us looking for success elsewhere. What will you choose?
Written by Michael “Go-To” Norton, XINNIX President, former CEO and Founder at Tramazing, former President of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, and former Executive Vice President of Sandler Corporate Training, Michael Norton has helped companies accelerate their growth by elevating their talent through learning and development programs.
Michael has had the pleasure of working with world-class companies such as Siemens Healthcare, WebMD, 7-Up, Cardinal Health, Cemex, Boral, HPE, Indeed, Lonza, KONE, Evonik, Quest Software, Dell, Anixter, and many more. for 30+ years he has developed, written, delivered, reinforced, and sold sales and sales management training programs that deliver real ROI while fitting into a company’s culture, processes, daily sales workflow, and budget.