Tag Archives: selling

Handling rejection in sales


Selling has long been considered a confrontational conversation, lightly smeared with honey to make it seem agreeable.  There are two reasons for that: first, the sales person wants to win while the prospect wants to retain both his money and his pride.

Now, of course this does not happen in every sale, but it can be considered a typical model.  Elements of the confrontation could quite easily enter any sale, and at any stage, even after the sale has been completed.

The second reason is that the sales person is scared of rejection.  As is well known, fear of loss or pain is a much more powerful motivator than the prospect of gain.  Rejection brings loss of face – a concept not restricted to Orientals.

For example, I bought a cooker over the phone, having done my research online. They delivered the wrong one. When I called the store to tell them, the manager became so defensive that he didn’t wait for me to finish what I was saying before jumping in to offer an alternative. He wanted to over-ride any blame by proposing a quick solution. That way he would occupy the moral high ground — as the problem solver rather than the one who had erred. He would also be calling the shots.

To avoid rejection, the sales person needs a protective strategy.

Some adopt a tough attitude, placing themselves in the dominant role, and the prospect in the role of supplicant (like the cooker store manager).  This old-fashioned macho approach is doomed to failure in the long run.  Even short term gains may quickly be reversed with cancellations at the first opportunity.

I declined the alternative cooker, and the store manager tried to make me feel unreasonable, instead of being agreeable about it. So I cancelled the order and asked for a refund.

Even the prospect or customer wants to save face!

If you are selling, you need to build into your preparation a fall-back position, a Plan B.  What is the least you will settle for if you don’t get the sale?

It could be something as simple as an introduction to another prospect, or even another appointment in three months’ time.  Viewed in the context of a new relationship, an immediate sale is not the only objective.

Work out what you will accept as an alternative to your main objective and you will be able to walk out with your tail up.  Selling is hard, and no one can endure repeated rejections without being affected.

So protect yourself.  Plan your fall-back position and give yourself another chance to feel good about the encounter.

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Don’t rely on facts alone

In an article on Influencing, I read this: “With rational persuasion, you persuade others with solid facts, clear explanations, and logical arguments.”

It reminded me of my early days in selling classified advertising. It was at a time when that branch of advertising was still rather primitive, even though job advertising in particular was high volume, high revenue. The ad agencies that specialized in classified advertising were unsophisticated and their media buyers were not much more than clerical processors.

There was a considerable gap between the selling of display advertising and what occurred with ads for jobs, property, gardening equipment and whatever else cluttered up the back pages of newspapers. Even the vocabulary was different. The ‘classified’ people spoke of ‘selling space’.

Unusually for that time, I decided to use the readership profile of my newspaper, as derived from the National Readership Survey (NRS). No one else was doing that. I sold readers, not space, and had all the facts, figures and statistics to back my carefully structured argument.

I got sales, but only because the media buyers were afraid of looking foolish in the face of the figures I presented. I made sales, but not friends. Media buyers were intimidated by my “solid facts, clear explanations, and logical arguments”, and were reluctant to develop relationships with me.

Selling is the process of persuasion, which means, in simple terms, getting others to want your offering. Generally, people buy because they want something, not just because they need it. And that’s an emotional decision, not a rational one. They also buy because they like you.

If facts were enough to make a sale, no one would need a sales person. It would be sufficient to send the facts in an email. Clearly that is not so. Information is important to bolster an argument, but it is not the argument itself.

Persuasion works by focusing on both the benefit to the other person of accepting your proposition, and on the disbenefit of not doing so. Most of all it works by showing the other person how they could safely make the decision to change their thinking and/or accept your proposition.

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Have you considered Database Marketing?


Small businesses don’t always have a Marketing Plan. And when someone suggests Database Marketing, here’s what they often ask: “Isn’t Database Marketing only for the big boys?”

The answer is No. You do not need an expensive system to set up a Database. You can use a simple spreadsheet to record the essential information about your customers.

These are the details your system should record:

Recency: date of last purchase

Frequency: how many purchases made

Money: total spend with you so far

Average order: Money divided by Frequency

Trend: are the Frequency and Average rising or falling?

Your marketing should focus on Recency, Frequency and Money – the RFM factors, as they are called in Direct Marketing.

Those who bought from you recently, and often, are the ones most likely to buy from you again, because they have accepted you as a preferred supplier, and do not need much reminding of the benefits of doing business with you.

And those who buy frequently could quite readily be persuaded to shorten the gap between purchases or to order something new between their regular purchases.

The total money spent with you will also determine how important they are to your business, and how profitable.

Obviously, Recency, Frequency and Money will have different values in different businesses.

For example, the gaps for buying computers will usually be much greater than for consumables like stationery.  You should monitor all gaps and learn what is normal for each type of product, not only among your own customers, but in the industry.

It adds important information to your Database – information that can guide your Marketing decisions.

The other factor to consider is creativity – copywriting and design.  Start with an email to admin@pkpcommunicators.com or call 0845 165 9240.

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