Wanting to understand “why” and “how” are a curiosity we are all born with. Just look at infants and toddlers, they are always asking “why” and “how” questions, something may be mundane or old hat to me, is brand new and completely unimagined to them until they see or experience it. But as they enter the school system, things change; a small minority maintain their constructive curiosity, not settling, they continue to push the envelop to discover more, discover “how” things work, and “why” things have to be the way they are, “why” not different. are keen to change, add to, or take away from a technique, to see what incremental change will lead to incremental gains that add up over time. Even when they succeed, win first prize, they are never satisfied, because they know more will be required tomorrow, and certainly the next fiscal year.
And then there is the rest, the majority, those who from the time they enter school, seem to look for little more than the opportunity to exist and sustain. They are taught and quickly learn to “fall in line”, accept how “things work”. Their success (as such), is based on, and thrives by continuing to tow the line and play to the current wave. Rather than leveraging curiosity to propel them further, they wait to be told “how” to do things and “why”. Success here of course is not measured by quality of output, but by how well they play within the lines and being able to deny any and all things outside those lines. They learn how to rationalize and deny; and with years of practice, they are ready to move into the work force, prepared to deliver. Needless to say, some of these people grow up to be sales people, where playing between the lines and denial as an art form, seem to be core and sought after capabilities.
If you doubt this, ask yourself why so many underperforming reps continue to be employed, while continuing to miss quota. Or why the Pareto Principle, the 80/20, is so entrenched, and unchallenged in the sales world; rather than challenging the principle it, people operate as though it was divinely ordained. Interestingly, someone was sharing some data with me recently, that suggested that it is now 13% of reps delivering 87% of the revenue.
It takes a lot of attitude and effort to avoid the seduction of denial. As we progress from school to post secondary, the art of denial is fine tuned and reinforced. Speak to the “average” students, and they have learned to rationalize their results much better than learning the subject matter they “averaged” in. They point to those A+ students as anomalies, denying the facts at hand. By the time they arrive at work, their habits and attitudes are set, faced with a choice of taking a different tack than their peers or denying results, and the latter wins with most. Their managers, themselves plucked from the pool of deniers, just reinforce the whole mess, and cycle continues.
Don’t disperse, while the power and seduction of denial is great, there is a way to overcome it, and it is a tactic that will help your interactions with buyers as well. Make a difficult, but important change. Rather than telling people, including prospect, “why” and “how” things are, change to asking “why” and “how”, and then deal with the answer. Most exceptional sellers I know, the 20% (13%), fear failure, and are willing to go a path less followed; while the 80% (87%), fear success, and everything that brings, and opt for the power of denial!