The power to say no

I learnt to sell on my own. In retrospect, I’m glad I did. There was no book knowledge of what constitutes a good sale, a right technique or the perfect pitch. I came to realise that confidence sells, belief in your product reached the prospective buyer and most of all making a sale because you know it will add value to the customer. You may argue that all of these things are in the books anyway. Well, you’re right, except that its not the same until you practice it.

My approach to sales was doubly validated by the fact that conventional sales processes, which I got around to reading, seemed to say the same thing I was already doing. That was a huge confidence booster. I figured out things that became ‘mantras’ in my work style. I passed them onto my team and many of them continue to practice it till date.

One glaring difference that I found myself disputing with multiple people was whether a sales person should say no. It seems contradictory that a person intending to make a sale would also want to walk away from it. However, most sales people often find themselves in a position where they are unable to meet the customers needs, at the same time do not have the conviction and courage to say ‘It’s not possible’ . In my experience, most customers(there are always the exceptions), have appreciated the fact that I have been so upfront and candid about it. On a few occasions, they have gone on to be my customers at a later date.

I’m certainly not suggesting that a sales person walks away from a deal because the customer doesn’t accept the terms, but every salesperson knows that there are deals that reach a dead lock and it requires a compromise from either one of the parties to break the impasse. In my interactions, that has never left a good taste in the mouth even once the deal has been concluded. One party always feels like they have been pushed further than they would have liked to have gone. This eventually became an area that I kept an eye out for when interviewing; more than sales skills, it reflected on the confidence of a person.

Books tend to briefly touch upon this usually under negotiation, where conventional wisdom prescribes that a well negotiated deal is a win-win and both sides walk away from it feeling content with the terms of the transaction. Reality isn’t so giving and sales people often find themselves in a weaker negotiating position from where they usually concede in order to make sure the deal goes through. There are certainly a lot of other influences; targets, managerial pressure, organisational culture and expectations, which I shall not delve into.

Are you a sales person? Are you wired to say yes to each of your customer’s needs? I’m curious to know what your opinion on this may be. Leave a comment, drop in a line or a message.

By Guha Bharadwaj

Marketing | B2B | B2C | Growth | Design Thinking | Music

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