“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” —James Stephens, Irish poet
Most salespeople and entrepreneurs (80%+) have prospecting ass-backwards.
They think that when they pick up a phone or walk into a door they are on trial—that their company, products or services are the elements under examination during that initial conversation. Most amateurs think that their job is to hurriedly cough up product info in the lobby, and then to throw themselves (and their offer) under the magnifying glass, to be picked apart by each and every one of their prospects.
This way of thinking and acting couldn’t be farther from the manner in which successful prospecting is carried out by real sales pros.
Real hard-core sales professionals employ a primary way of thinking—a very specific prospecting mindset that separates them from most all other amateur salespeople. Their prospecting results are dramatically different than all the rest, and by “different” I mean much, much better!
And that’s what this short blog article is about.
Let’s go to a common scenario, the one where a salesperson picks up the 200 lb phone or walks into the door with the scary gatekeeper. They typically have an attitude that they are on trial from the very first word that comes out of their mouth. This is the place where the amateur sales rep is simply so hopeful that the gatekeeper or decision maker doesn’t bite off their head and tell them to, “lose my number.”
When this is going down, it’s hard for this rep to clear their head and sound the least bit confident about what they’re selling, why they’re offering it and who qualifies for it.
In this scenario the salesperson has placed themselves in an emotional vacuum based on the feeling that their company, products and services are under the microscope. As soon as they adopt this position of inferiority to the prospect, there starts a very destructive cascade of thoughts, feelings and responses that take over.
The self-talk and emotional roller coaster can sound something like this…
I’m fearful that I’ll have to say all the right things to get (and keep) the decision maker’s time and attention.
I can feel myself becoming anxious…don’t blow this interaction with the decision maker, Joe. You only have one shot!
Dang, I’m so nervous, I don’t know WTF is going to come out of my mouth.
I feel panicky. My thoughts are jumbled. What is my front-talk again? What does my script say…what was I supposed to say?
And then, the decision maker answers the phone or sticks out his or her hand, but you’re already toast. They can smell the fear on you, like a dog smells fear, and decision makers don’t like doing business with people that show weakness. So you blurt something out, followed by something else, and then they quickly lose interest in you because they don’t perceive you as a strong, confident person or a potential future thought partner.
And all of this happens to amateur salespeople because they approach the prospect thinking or feeling that THEY are ON TRIAL.
What if you changed one thing? What if you simply handled each and every phone or field approach with a genuine level of CURIOSITY?
What if you replaced all of the negative or destructive thoughts and feelings such as…
What if you approached every cold (or even a warm) call with the following thoughts and prompts:
- I wonder if this prospect is even qualified to own my product or service?
- I’m curious what challenges they’re experiencing?
- I’d like to understand HOW they believe they can improve their situation and how fast they are looking to do so?
- I wonder how open they are to looking at possible solutions?
- I’m curious what piece my solutions or offerings can help them?
If you simply begin to REPLACE the thoughts and feelings of fear, anxiety, worry, nervousness and pressure with the curiosity of your prospect’s qualifications, challenges, desire for change or improvement, their openness, and how all of this fits with your solutions……what do think would happen to your actual prospecting results?
I think you know what would happen. Your conversion ratio of approaches to appointments would improve dramatically, along with your energy, your ability to sustain and maintain high levels of prospecting activity over a long period of time.
All of the harmful and destructive thoughts and feelings we mentioned will not, and CANNOT co-exist when you have a genuine sense of CURIOSITY.
Sales pros know this.
Real sales professionals go into every prospecting session or conversation with a general mindfulness of curiosity. They know that THEY are not on trial. They know that their prospect may or may not be a fit for them. They know that they are most effective when they approach each prospect with a curious and detached mindset.
Pros are curious if this prospect is worth THEIR time! Pros are completely emotionally detached from the result of any one call!
Hence, there is no fear, anxiety, nervousness or feeling of failure if the call doesn’t result in an immediate appointment. They are CURIOUS and detached going in, and they unemotionally analyze a body of data and results after they are done with their session or their week.
When you simply add a level of CURIOSITY to your prospecting mindset and begin to ask the questions I’ve bullet-pointed above, you will:
- Feel the pressure (of having to say the right things) slip away
- Be calmer
- Have more of a clear mind
- Become more relaxed
- Feel more in control of the conversation
- Have more focus during the interaction
- Be perceived as more confident
- Seem more professional
So do this…take these steps:
- Actually become conscious of how you’re feeling RIGHT NOW about prospecting in general
- Become cognizant of the specific thoughts and feelings that come to the surface—come to the forefront of your mind
- If those feelings are similar to the negative or destructive emotions I’ve described, then simply begin to add a level of curiosity into all of your prospecting methods and mindsets
- Prior to any phone call or field call, feel yourself becoming CURIOUS—asking those bullet-point questions
Force yourself to do all of this if you have to, however, soon it will become habit and behavior and all of the negative horse-crap will have become replaced with a very refined, high-level mentality for prospecting.
Adding a measure of CURIOUSITY will change your prospecting results dramatically, and almost immediately.
Try this and tell me about your results.
AND…please share this article will any and all salespeople that are trying hard, but struggling with cold calling and prospecting.
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on the roles of direct selling, entrepreneurialism and leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©.