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Good Salespeople vs. Bad Salespeople

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What differentiates good salespeople from bad salespeople? There's no one correct answer, but when I consider this question, the first thing that comes to mind is that good salespeople use facts differently than bad salespeople.

What do I mean by this? In my experience, bad salespeople use facts to justify, defend, and explain their lack of results. They use these facts to demonstrate that they don't need to change.

As an example, a fact might be that a competitor is underpricing their product. A bad salesperson will take this fact and turn it into an excuse to say the competitor is just buying the business.

So, what's the difference between a fact and an excuse? An excuse is when a salesperson uses that information to tell themselves there was nothing they could do to change the end result.

When you hear a salesperson say the competitor is buying the business, take it with a grain of salt because you're hearing it through the salesperson's filter.

Here's a different way to look at this situation - As a salesperson, if the prospect tells you that you lost the business due to price, they did not want you to win, you were simply outsold. If they wanted you to win their business, they would have called you and said, "Hey, we love your stuff! What can we do to come down on price because we want to work with you."

Beyond this, people can use any number of excuses that masquerade as facts. Whether it's the economy is down, the supply chain is in the way, delivery dates are long, competitors' prices are better, or the competitor has a better feature set. You name it – bad salespeople can make a litany of excuses. Good salespeople, on the other hand, still look at the facts. As Jim Collins said in Good to Great, "We've got to be willing to confront the brutal facts yet remain optimistic in light of those facts."

Good salespeople don't deny the facts. They consider the facts and come up with a plan on how they can make changes in light of those facts to find a way to win. In the end, selling is about beliefs. If my buyer believes what I believe, that in the end, the best decision is buying from me. That the best overall value and total cost of ownership is working with me, regardless of that low price at the beginning - we win the deal.

Bad salespeople struggle with head trash. They believe that they have no control over pricing. When they're told their prospect is going to go with the competitor because their prices are better, they accept it. So, again, we want to be able to use the facts to look inside and figure out what we need to do better.

As you consider your sales career, think of these questions:

  • What facts are you using that are masquerading as excuses?
  • What are you looking to defend, justify, and explain?
  • Where are you finding yourself? (The victim? There's nothing I can do about it? I'm trapped?)

And as a good salesperson:

  • Where are you looking to improve?
  • Where are the obstacles?
  • Where are those results that you're not getting today?

From there, consider what behaviors, attitudes, and techniques you need to do differently and better. You can overachieve, even under challenging circumstances!

For a guide on changing your beliefs and dealing with head trash, click here

John Rosso

CEO and Best Selling Author of "Prospect The Sandler Way"