Being in sales is not only difficult today, it feels like you’re a piñata — people beat you with sticks hoping you’ll give up the candy.
A tradition born in Mexico and celebrated worldwide, a piñata is a colorful container filled with sweets and trinkets hung from a string. Blindfolded people take turns swinging a stick to break it. When enough hits cause the sweets to spill out, everyone rushes in for their share of the goodies.
Sound familiar? I’ve been told I am colorful. I’ve been told I am full of it. I certainly have had blind people — who have no idea what they really want — taking swings at me with sticks hoping to get something for free. I know you’ve been there or are there right now.
See if this sounds familiar:
“I sometimes wish for the good ol’ days when people returned calls and I could count on my loyal customers.”
“My long-term, faithful customers are now carrying sticks and aren’t afraid to use them.”
“At the end of the day, I feel so beat up I want to file a police report for being mugged.”
So what works during these challenging economic times? A stiff drink, a happy disposition and waiting for better days? That will just get you hit with more sticks — from your coworkers and your boss.
Instead, remember these ideas when you feel like a piñata:
- Have confidence in your skills. Every Hall of Fame baseball player has gone through batting slumps. The key is not to let the slump invade your opinion of yourself. If before 2008 you had good customer relationships, brought home consistent sales, were a master at getting order add-ons and believed you could sell an Apple computer to Bill Gates, it didn’t all disappear with the economy. You are still good at sales. It’s just a different environment. It’s time to retool your skill set, make small adjustments to the skills that make you great in sales and play by the new rules of engagement. A salesperson without self-confidence is like a deer with an unfortunate birthmark in the shape of a target — not upright for very long. Selling comes from your confidence.
- Use the new rules of engagement. Why does it seem as if we have seen 15 years of changes packed into the last three years? People don’t talk on the phone, they type on it. We don’t talk to people to learn more about them, we Google them. People don’t call you back to tell you they aren’t interested in your proposal, they send you an e-mail — if anything at all. So we must adapt to new ways of doing things, which I call “The New Rules of Engagement.”
Rule No. 1: There are no blind dates. Today people conduct massive online research before the first date. There is no such thing as a “blind” date. Visiting customers and prospects now should be treated the same way. There is no such thing as a cold call. Before you call on anyone, perform all the research online you can. Have they recently been in the news? What is on their website? What one thing is most important to this prospect? Can you imagine having a prospect profile upfront? It’s out there online. You just have to look for it.
Rule No. 2: Heal quickly. When people treat you like a piñata, they can be brutal. They verbally agree to a price, only to request a 24 percent reduction the next day, take it or leave it. People promise to let you know something by a given date and suddenly communication ends like they’ve been transported to Antarctica. You tell me — are written contracts solid anymore? When you are a piñata, sticks appear from places you never expected. It’s easy to be stunned, bruised and hurt. You must heal and get back in the game fast. How? Keep things in perspective, keep working your plan and, most importantly, stop replaying those bad moments mentally. You can’t get where you want to go if you only look at where you’ve been. Being a piñata doesn’t have to hurt if you can still give them what they want while getting what you want.
Russell White, president of Pinnacle Solutions, Lake Wylie, S.C., is an author, columnist, consultant and international speaker on leadership and growth strategies. As a speaker at The Rental Show 2011 in Las Vegas, he will present “How to Sell to a Skeptical Society” with more of his “New Rules of Engagement” on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 10:15 a.m. He can be reached at 803-831-7600 or e-mail email@example.com.