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White Elephants on the Sales Call

By Tony Cole

In your selling system, what is it that you need to recognize that you have been afraid to confront? How many times have you been on a sales call and knew that something was wrong, but lacked the sales courage to do anything about it?

  • The decision maker isn't there

  • The prospect isn't being truthful

  • They have a problem they really don't want to fix

  • They aren't going to undo a current relationship

  • They don't have the money or resources to invest to fix a problem

Therefore, you ignore the ‘elephant'. For example, think about the short term and long term consequences of ignoring the fact that your prospect has not yet decided to change from their current problematic relationship. Certainly, the problem for you, as the sales person, is that by ignoring the fact that they can't change a relationship, you are going to end up doing a lot of work and putting money in someone else's pocket. This takes from you and your company. It takes the time that you could have spent on someone that is ready, willing and able to change. It also takes time you could have spent with a client that needs additional services from you, and it takes time from your family.

Your company ends up supporting an effort that has zero return on investment because you aren't courageous enough to address this particular white elephant of not being able to fire the incumbent. They invest time, money and resources on you and your "I think they will buy from me. They really liked what I had to say and enjoyed the presentation." Great; however, none of that gets you paid or enhances company profits, and it certainly doesn't solve the problem for the prospect.

If you are going to sell more and be more productive and effective in your sales efforts, you must first have the sales courage to call out "white elephant in the room" when you see it, hear it or sense it. I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you have to learn when it's there; you already know. Your gut tells you when something is amiss. Now you must have the courage to speak up and say, ‘If you don’t mind, there is something that I'd like to address, is that ok?"

Once you recognize this and develop the courage to address it, you won't have to worry about what you should say. The right words will come to you. Just remember to be assertive and not aggressive. Stay clinically detached, nurture your comments, and don't be afraid to walk from the prospect or client if a mutual understanding and agreement isn't reached.

Four Questions to Ask Yourself to Improve Your Sales Courage:

1)   What was a recent white elephant moment you had in selling? (Something that you knew would take the sale sideways or corrupt your ability to close the deal, but you ignored it ‘hoping' you could find a way to handle it later, or that it would go away and solve itself')

2)   What did you want to say or do but backed off?

3)   What can you do, must you do, about it now?

4)   How will you handle such incidents in the future?

Read other articles and learn more about Tony Cole.

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