One way to describe selling is to compare it to driving. Both are fun when done right, and frustrating when you are stalled in heavy traffic. As a driver there are many rewards and benefits to executing things correctly, and great danger if you don’t and at times very serious consequences for rushing things or doing thing the wrong way. Driving like sales, has a lot of rules and laws, some of these are logical, there for everyone’s safety, without which no one would benefit or survive from the resulting chaos; but there are rules that are just there for the financial benefit of the municipality or power that arbitrarily imposed them.
Some of the laws are easy to follow, stop signs, red lights, no parking, no left turn; you may not like them, but there is not much room for debate or misinterpretation. Red means stop, green means go, clear as day, doesn’t mean people stop or go when they should but the law is clear. Other traffic rules are not as black and white, (or green and red if you insist), offering drivers an opportunity to interpret a little, use judgement, and become accountable for their actions and outcomes. One specifically is yield. The slight room for interpretation offers drivers and traffic to the ability and responsibility for maintaining good flow, but that same flexibility, opens the door to big danger when someone misinterprets or tries to take advantage of what is essentially a judgment call.
I used to live near a roundabout, what made it interesting, even entertaining at a safe distance, was seeing how drivers approached it. What made this interesting is that it wasn’t a city block, but two highways intersecting, where both traffic flows were approaching the roundabout at 45 and 50 miles per hour, and were going back to the same speed once they got past the intersection. It always reminded me of a sale that is moving along at a good and perhaps even a predictable pace, and all of a sudden, you have to deal with something that forces you to make a decision on the fly, while still maintaining control of the sale.
You can tell many of the drivers made considered decision as to whether they were going to enter the roundabout and how. Some did so slowly, others waited wait, some gunned it, all impacted by the specific circumstances which changed by the second, and their interpretation of the circumstances, their ability as drivers, their sense of their own abilities. The other thing that came into play was their willingness to act in the interest of everyone in and at the roundabout, or strictly think about their own need to get from point A to point B without regard for the others on the road. Needless to say there were a lot of crashes at that roundabout.
Sales people face roundabouts throughout the sales. Much like at roundabout the results are mixed. Some follow the strict letter of the rule and sit there and watch opportunity after opportunity go by without acting, and usually end up with the so-called “lower hanging fruit”, in this case stuff that fell off the tree yesterday. Others go for it every time, jumping in even with the smallest of space; you’ve seen it, the customer says a certain word and they are off on a rant, at the other extreme those who jam the sale or customer whenever they can. To yield in sales at time means seeing that you may not be the best fit for the customer and holding off. However, there are times when it makes sense to go for it, it may seem a bit assertive, but the job of a sales person is to make things happen. Sellers need to lead the way to the right solution for the customer, which means measuring all factors and entering the roundabout safely, but getting both you and the buyer to your mutual destination safely every time.
What’s in Your Pipeline?