Accentuate the Positive

by Maura Schreier-Fleming
(Dallas, TX, USA)

Maura Schreier-Fleming

Maura Schreier-Fleming

If you've noticed the economy is less than ideal, you're paying attention. You may have also noticed that salespeople have responded differently to the challenge. Here's how one successful manager is doing her part to keep her staff and herself motivated to succeed with their selling challenges.

Your attitude sells. In today's bad economy it's easy to hear doom and gloom. It's also easy to keep passing it along in the conversations you have with your customers. It's also too easy to keep focusing on negatives when you sell. Another approach is to choose to look at a situation from a positive point of view.

Jill Almaguer is the District Sales Manager for Wireless Equipment Manufacturers for Agilent Technologies, Her team was trying to sell to a past customer who happened to be very interested in Agilent's competition. Agilent's competition had an advantage.

The customer was giving Agilent's competition more time than Agilent to be considered. Instead of approaching the customer with a negative attitude, Mrs. Almaguer coached her staff to look at the positive. Instead of complaining about the unfair advantage that their competition had, Ms. Almaguer asked her staff to think of how the customer had benefited from working in the past with Agilent.

This was going to be the subject of the sales call. They would focus on the benefits Agilent brought to the customer and ask for another opportunity to work together on the new project. They would emphasize past accomplishments and look to the future to do more.

Her customer will appreciate her strategy. Who wants to hear one more example of what they've been doing wrong? It's stressful for you and your customers when you focus only on the negative outcomes of what you're doing. Instead, take advantage of the opportunities to show them what is working well.

Get rid of more negatives. It's stressful selling in a slow economy. You should not be adding to the stresses. You can eliminate time wasters that reduce your productivity. Mrs. Almaguer notices that she is more productive when she organizes certain tasks together. She says, "I try to return my calls in one block of time. I also block out time for my e-mail.

I read and reply at once and I notice it saves me time rather than reading a few e-mails and going back later." Think of the activities you're doing throughout the day and see if you could save time by working them in a block of time.

Also examine what is taking up most of your free time. If it's television, ask yourself if the time investment is paying you returns. If you need to catch the news, ask yourself if you can get it in your car to and from work or from a newspaper?

If you set some goals on how you want to spend your time, you may avoid getting into the traps of some of the time wasters. By making the time for what you want to do, you'll have less time to fill with empty activities like television. Goals can also serve as a source of motivation during difficult times.

This isn't the first time we've had slow times and it won't be the last. As a salesperson it's your job to keep your customer focused on their performance in the future. What better time is it than now for them to buy your products or services? When the economy quickly rebounds, as it often does, you can make sure your customers are ready to keep up the pace.
Maura Schreier-Fleming is President of Best@Selling, She works with business and sales professionals at company and trade association meetings to make selling easier and more productive.

She is the author of the book Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results. She can be reached at 972 380 0200 or

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