A model to get more sales and to stay calm under pressure

[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

Do you want to get more sales? Even if you don’t sell anything, you probably propose things, pitch things, apply for things, and so forth. Do you want to be more successful there and to close more?

I learned today’s model in sales class in business school, but it applies to many cases — nearly any situation where you try to persuade someone of something nontrivial they have to agree to.

Think of anything you bought for more than pocket change. Take the clothes you’re wearing now, for example. I bet for at least a couple of the items after you were pretty sure you would buy them but before you did, you had objections. Maybe you wanted to make sure the price was right, or the fit, color, or whatever. But you still bought it.

When you’re selling, pitching, or influencing, objections near or after you thought the deal closed can be incredibly frustrating. Losing your composure then can lose you the sale.

Today’s model helps you keep cool at times like that.

A model to get more sales and stay calm under pressure: An objection is a statement of an unmet need.

People buy things to meet their needs. A big part of sales is communicating that what you’re selling meets their needs. An inevitable part of any sale is that, no matter how much you think you covered everything, before signing they will always object about something.

Many people get frustrated. “How could they not understand?” “I already explained that to them!” “Why didn’t they mention that before?!”

Today’s belief overcomes this frustration. It says that

An objection is a statement of an unmet need.

Instead of being frustrated, this belief tells you they are still interested (they wouldn’t have objected if they didn’t care). It doesn’t mean they disagree. If you listen and follow-up right, you have a good chance at getting the sale. They want you to get the sale.

When I use this belief

I use this belief when I’m in sales mode and somebody objects to whatever I’m selling. I also use this belief when preparing my presentation. Since I know they’ll object with something at the end, I don’t have to get every last thing in the presentation. I know they’ll ask me if I miss anything.

What this belief replaces

This belief replaces the frustration of thinking the objections criticize my product with the expectation that addressing unmet needs at the end is part of the sales process.

Where this belief leads

This belief leads to greater sales and increased ability to influence and persuade.

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2 responses on “A model to get more sales and to stay calm under pressure

  1. I don’t know Josh, I’ve been through some telemarketing jobs where objections just weren’t worth arguing with. I’m talking about a boiler-room coldcalling operation I had the misfortune of working for. 500-600 calls a day was my average there. Management gave us the coldest, angriest leads I’ve ever seen, people were eager to have others quit so they could reap the benefits of their leads, and again and again, I saw people lose their cool over the phone.

    In my mind, there are people that are just not happy people. Some people love to argue. Some have to stay on the phone with me and object to everything I say as part of their job. Some just don’t want to go back to work. And a ton of people I talked to loved to talk and object to what I had to say, and no matter how logically and persistently I battled them down, they wouldn’t go on to make a move or even settle on an appointment date and keep it. I remember in one job on Wall Street, (complete boilerroom), our firm refused to coldcall in wussy states like New Hampshire because the people there were too nice and polite to just say no, and instead gave us the wimpiest objections again and again. If a seasoned salesman with a decade of experience is going to tell me that, I am tempted to believe him.

    Maybe my mind has been beaten and jaded from all the coldcalling, but I just want to put this out there. It probably helps to use your model and treat objections like unmet needs that I can help, but in other instances, I found it better to just hang up and try someone else.

    • I’ve never been in a boiler room operation. Sounds brutal. I take my hat off that you could handle it without too much bitterness. I can imagine they work outside the range today’s model applies since they force you to call so many people with no interest whatsoever, or in the middle of dinner, so you can’t often expect people to respond respectfully or honestly.

      I’m limited by my experience and observations in creating these models, which is why I try to present them as personal to me and why I clarify that models aren’t supposed to be right, just effective in their purpose (remember a model is a simplified representation for a purpose). If a model of mine doesn’t serve your purpose, you can change it, drop it, or create a new one that achieves your purpose.

      Overall, my purpose of this series isn’t to have people adopt my models verbatim, though they work great for me and I hope the adopt as many as improve their lives, but to give readers the ability to change their beliefs as often as they like.

      On a personal note, I appreciate learning where my models break down to help me refine and improve them for me.

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