If you put 50 salespeople in a room, we could go on for hours sharing stories of the worst customers we’ve ever encountered. These stories range from the cheapskate multi-millionaire, you know, the guy who owns half the town, yet blew out because he had to pay the Doc Fee, to the customer who brought his 3rd cousin-twice removed attorney as backup to return the car quoting the, I have 72 hours to return it statute. We’ve had customers burn off, jump up, holler, throw up, and demand to “see the man” and just when we think we’ve seen it all...
We love the thrill of excitement; there are very few industries, where one has so many unique experiences day in and day out. To put it mildly, every day on the blacktop is truly an adventure. Although we can resurrect legendary, campfire stories of customer run-ins, we’ve yet to talk about the worst customer we’ve ever encountered-that customer is you. Let’s be honest, as salespeople, we are our worst customers. What we hear determines what we see; what is seen becomes spoken and what is spoken is manifested into results. If you aren’t achieving what you once did, it’s because you are hearing, seeing, and speaking your way to failure.
- Can’t Hear? Do you remember when you first hit the blacktop? You were a mixture of emotions-terrified of making a mistake yet optimistic of embarking on your new profession. Gone were the days of donning the orange apron, punching a clock and stocking paint cans; you were now a professional sales consultant. You didn’t care when you heard customers say, “Today is just an information day.” You weren’t concerned that your customer wanted to be $350 per month; you weren’t even standing in the huddle of salespeople playing the game, “Guess that ACV,“ waiting for a manager to bang on the glass forcing someone to grab the Up no one wants. Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew to do.” You didn’t know enough to be a danger to your career. In spite of your limited knowledge gained from 5 days of training, you did the best you could with what you had. You trumped your lack of experience by having energy, excitement, and optimism. You were too ignorant to be selective in which ups to catch-you caught them all; you were too naïve to ask a customer what they owed on their trade-you didn’t know what it was worth anyway; you were too dumb to ask where they wanted to be on their payment before lifting the first handle. In spite of your ignorance, you outsold most of the veteran salespeople-until now. Bewildered, you ask yourself, “What happened?” As if someone secretly injected you with the Cursed Virus, inoculating your success, you began to mentally implode. Your DNA didn’t change; you are still the same capable salesperson. The only thing different is you once listened, today you only hear. Hearing creates perception and perception is subjective. As a sales consultant, when you hear a customer’s objections, concerns, or fears, you are guilty of snapping to a perceived judgment of having a deal or not. Hearing causes a salesperson to shut down to the possibilities while listening causes one to open up and become attentive to addressing the concerns of his customer.
- Can’t See? Helen Keller said, “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” We began our careers with rose-colored glasses; today we have traded them in for mirrored shades. We once envisioned the blacktop as the land of opportunity, yet today we’ve allowed ourselves to mirror and become consumed by the negativity that surrounds us each day. Like storms, your circumstances won’t last IF you keep moving. Lift your eyes from what you are presently seeing and instead envision your ideal outcome. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, my people perish.” Don’t let a blown deal, rude customer, or rollback bury your month; instead treat dilemma as a pothole, a minor setback-a character building moment, toward your road to greatness. You’re a marathoner not a sprinter; think in terms of 26 days, not 26 minutes. During a midnight, blinding storm, pilots have to rely solely on their instruments because of their impaired vision- the same is true for you in sales. Read something positive-if it takes you 6 months to read a book, so be it; listen to something positive on your way to work; when a customer drives up envision yourself putting a 60 day tag in the vehicle you are selling them. In short, crowd out the negativity, loses, and resentment. Remember, yesterday ended last night. Feed the faith; starve the fear.
- Can’t Speak? If God spoke the world, all of its glory and all of its magnificence, into existence; if the power of the tongue speaks either life or death, what are you speaking into your career? The most courageous person is the one who speaks his vision in spite of what he sees. I know you just did your best walk-around on a customer who couldn’t finance a light bulb; I remember you pleaded with your manager to dehorse your lawsuit settlement customers for the evening, even though they didn’t have insurance-blowing your only chance of saving your month; I’ve seen the times you were the first to arrive and last to leave and you still didn’t sell a car. Nothing fuels success or failure more than the spoken word. Even when you don’t feel like it, even though what you are doing does not seem to be working-don’t, under any circumstances speak anything negative. When you fail, don’t rehash it with the other salespeople- believe me, they are glad you didn’t make the deal. Don’t tell the service cashier, what just happened, she doesn’t care either, she’s just using you for a smoke break. You work in an industry where you have over-whelming odds of failing-no need to add fuel to the fire with your mouth. Show me the clip of Muhammad Ali, or any other athlete for that matter, affirming his doubts and fears aloud. Good or bad, what you speak manifests results.
We are all “Owner Financed;” the most expensive property you possess is that double-fisted trophy encased in your skull called your brain. What you choose to think, speak, and act upon is like putting a sign on your brain saying, For Sale By Owner- don’t be so cheap. Become deaf to negativity, dumb to your perceptions, and blind to your circumstances. Listen to your purpose, envision your success, speak to your mountains, and deposit your greatness.
I’ll see you next time on the blacktop!