“The Sales Moment; Issue #251”
In this world of mass communication and connected technology, it seems that everyone has a voice. It has provided a soapbox for anyone with an opinion to speak their mind. But is it always wise to say what you think?
Since our founding fathers created the First Amendment of the Constitution, Free Speech has been an American Citizen’s Right. Unfortunately, it does not excuse someone from the consequences of those words or actions.
Recently, Kathy Griffin’s actions and words made headlines across every media channel. When her rant was met with outrage by many people including the media, she came out with an immediate apology and became concerned that her career might be ruined.
Griffin is not the first to be in this position. She joined a long list of public faux pas from people like Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen and Howard Cosell, to name a few.
I heard Jeff Probst, host of the long running show Survivor, tell a contestant, “You can’t unring that bell” after he outed a transgender on the show as a power play. It backfired, he lost his job and has been apologizing profusely ever since.
What does this have to do with our sales process? Everything! We have to be aware of what we say and how we say it.
While talking with a coaching client recently, he mentioned his frustration with a customer because he was blowing up his phone with questions and concerns. Many times late into the evening. He wanted to tell this guy to back off and let him do his job. I told him, “but you can’t”.
Sometimes customers are frustrating and there are times when you have to choose to stop doing business with them. However, in this situation, speaking his mind could cause long term ramifications. Not only could he lose credibility, it could affect his ability to get paid and he could lose the opportunity for referrals and future business.
It’s not worth the temporary satisfaction to speak your mind. If you need to, vent to someone else.
Here are a few of the many things you should avoid saying to a customer:
- Avoid foul language. Even if you think you know your customer, take the high road and avoid using inappropriate language.
- Avoid inappropriate jokes or slurs. Some salespeople think the dirty joke they heard from a friend would be great to break the ice with their customer. Once again, this is not worth the risk. Also, be careful of political jokes. You don’t know always know how someone believes and it would be better to keep it to yourself.
- Don’t tell them their wrong. Even if you know what they are saying is questionable, you must lead the customer to a correct conclusion without telling them directly. You do not want to put them on defense. You will lose.
- Don’t bash the competition. Let your product or service stand on it’s own and show them how you can provide the best solution. If you have to criticize your competition to make yourself look good, you need to reevaluate your offering.
Many salespeople think they have to talk too much on the front end to break the ice. The best policy is to listen 70% of the time and talk 30%. Listen carefully and ask great questions. This will keep you out of trouble.
Your words and actions have consequences. It is impossible to “unring that bell.”
Own Your Game!
SPECIAL NOTE: My friend Jeff Goin’s new book, “Real Artists Don’t Starve” comes out today! Want to learn how to make a living as a creative? Get @JeffGoins new book by clicking the book title here: “Real Artists Don’t Starve”.