To love an ego

Selling without ego

An ineffective salesperson is an ego-driven salesperson. From his firs contact (his long-winded email pitch), he'll tell you all about "what we do". He'll make wildly optimistic promises and brag about vague successes. All of this, even before understanding anything about who you are, what motivates you, how you are trying to solve the problem today, and before understanding anything about your strategy or approach. He sees you not as an equal partner in what will hopefully become a long-term business relationship, but as an obstacle to his sale.

Then, if for whatever reason you are still convinced to take a call, his focus continues to be on his own needs. He'll run through a standard pitch about what his company does (caring mostly about how well he delivers the pitch), he'll ask whether you have budget (money he wants), whether your project has a timeline (money he wants sooner rather than later), and he'll qualify you to understand whether you have decision-making authority (he doesn't want you to waste his time). All of this, even before he understands what you need or why you took his call to begin with. Even if the conversation does eventually shift to you, how can you be sure you aren't wasting your time or wasting your breath?

Sure, sometimes the customer will buy from an average sales rep. If there is a well-defined need and there are few other choices on the market, then average sales performance is tolerated as just business as usual. But the best salespeople do more than just take orders when they are ripe. The best salespeople know how to step outside of their own ego and how to consult with clients.

To sell without ego is to first understand who the prospect is, what the prospect needs, what he or she is doing today, and where current and past efforts have failed. Top sales performers pitch nothing until they understand the prospect's perspectives, biases and assumptions. This understanding is the foundation from which you can move forward. From there, consultative sales requires that you lay-out a path forward that meets the prospect's needs and, beyond this, exceeds what the prospect is able to accomplish without you. When this has all come together, you can feel the tone shift and the mood lighten. You know that it is only a matter of time before the terms will have been negotiated, the deal will have been signed, and a long-term mutually-beneficial relationship will have begun.

Sales is hard. Because of countless bad experiences, prospects aren't usually open to us and are almost never nice to us at the start of a conversation. Beyond this, salespeople fail far more than we succeed. In many industries, closing 10% of your leads is the best you're ever going to achieve. As salespeople, we need to remind ourselves not to take it personally. It isn't about us.

Don't let ego get in the way of new business. An ego-less salesperson tries to see the world from the client's perspective, treats people well, and places himself in the service of all stakeholders.

Posted by Mark Manney.

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