Becoming comfortable with ambiguity is essential to professional selling. That’s because there’s an invisible wall between salespeople and their prospects. It’s built of apathy or resistance. Prospects are often apathetic or resistant to a salesperson’s efforts. Salespeople might even be feeling that way about some of their prospects.
And, anytime there’s a wall between two people, ambiguity exists. Salespeople have to work to understand what’s behind that wall. We have to work to understand why a prospect would buy from us.
The wall gets broken down by whoever (prospect or salesperson) most want what’s on the other side. For prospects, that’s whatever is being sold. For salespeople, it’s the sale.
Regardless, until it’s broken down, the wall of apathy or resistance creates ambiguity.
We’ve all been in sales situations where we’re disinterested in working with a particular prospect. Maybe our focus is elsewhere (a vacation) or perhaps we’re thinking this prospect will be a pain in our side. Regardless, we’ve certainly been resistant.
We’ve also all been in situations where prospects are apathetic or resistant to our sales efforts.
Our jobs as salespeople, however, rest on our abilities to overcome those feelings and break down that wall.
How do you break it down? What's the best way to understand what's on the other side of the "wall"? Let me know.
A natural curiosity is vital to success in any endeavor. Norman Vincent Peale, the great author, credited it for his long life. Socrates, one of history's most curious people, didn't killed by curiosity. He was murdered for dispensing advice.
There's a critical distinction to consider when thinking about curiosity:
Curiosity v. Cynicism. In many ways it's similar to the comparison of Optimists and Pessimists.
Curious people yearn to learn because of what they might uncover. Cynical people have no need to learn because they believe that whatever's out there will - undoubtedly - provide no value.
However, somewhere along the line, a lot of salespeople were told…
"Be like a lawyer. Never ask a question you don't know the answer to."
The problem with that advice is that it can lead to complacency. You can become satisfied with a "good" routine. You'll ask some good questions, get some good answers, make the same good recommendation, and move on. But good is the enemy of great, if you fall into that trap, you're not growing your skill base. There's no telling what you're missing out on. There's also no way to know what your prospects are missing out on.
Unlike the curious cat, though, you'd better be able to react to whatever surprises lurk behind the new questions you're asking.
Again, it wasn't the curiosity that killed the cat. It was a poor reaction to whatever it discovered.
What are your reactions?