Sales People: Don’t Accept the Beta Position

For generations sales people have accepted the role of the beta in any sales situation.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, sales people should be more authoritative.  How do we turn the tables?

I get the question all the time – “If I’m trying to sell my prospect, how can I be the alpha in the relationship?”

From the beginning of time sales people have always been at the mercy of their prospect or customer.  We can be dominated because by the very nature of selling we have already lost our alpha position.

Many years ago, a good friend of mine flew from Boston to Atlanta to meet with Home Depot in an effort to get his product more exposure from better store placement.

If you’re never been to Home Depot, it’s like most Fortune 500 companies – huge campus with numerous tall buildings that scream “Big company, beware!  We eat sales people for breakfast.”

Upon arriving, my friend Doug parked his car and walked into the lobby area (I could ask you to shut your eyes right now and you could write my next few sentences).

Huge entry way, granite countertops, adjacent meeting rooms off to the side, awards on the walls, a large reception desk with numerous gatekeepers and of course lots of other eager sales people waiting on their meetings.

You know the drill – check-in with a receptionist where she asks your name, if you have an appointment, who with, ID please, take your badge, sit down, read an old magazine, get a 3 hour old cup of coffee and wait…and wait…

To be honest with you this is what happens to sales people selling to small and medium sized businesses as well.  It just happens on a smaller scale.

The point being, we are made to be the beta from the start.  It seems like we’ve just accepted that this is the way business is done.

Your prospect comes down 20 minutes late, gives a fake apology about how another meeting ran long (disrespect), leads you to a conference room where he tells you that he only has 15 minutes to hear your pitch.  You respond “I just appreciate your time, no worries about being late.”  We are conditioned to answer like that.  It’s what sales 101 tells you to do.

Doesn’t sound like a fair way to do business, does it? In fact, it’s a frigging joke!  But, that’s the way it’s always been done.

Doug flew 1,500 miles, drove through Atlanta traffic, arrived on time and got 15 minutes to see his prospect.  Not to mention the time away from his wife, two beautiful daughters and other family responsibilities.  How much could he have accomplished back in his office in Massachusetts?

Sales people have long been dubbed as the beta but I’m here to tell you there is a better way.

Let me make something clear….you can still have empathy and be friendly to your prospects while taking on the role of the alpha in your meetings. 

You need to seize control early - exert confidence and lead your prospect down the path that you want from the very beginning.  Almost all sales people think they need to be this submissive wimp and they give full control to their prospect immediately.

Some examples of taking control that I’ve seen work very well...

  • Take the mental approach that there is only one you and prospects are a dime a dozen.
  • Always control time – what time the meeting is set, how long and where it’s going to be.  If you can schedule the meeting on your turf, all the better.
  • Always be early to your meeting – if you’re late, you give up all control.
  • Tell your prospect that your company is very selective when entering into a new partnerships – ask more for more information about their company and why you should do business with them?
  • If your prospect is going to be late, tell the gatekeeper you can wait 5-10 minutes otherwise you need to re-schedule.  Stick to your guns here.
  • Always be thorough with your follow-up and responses but don’t be overly eager and always available.
  • Always communicate to your prospect that you have a meeting immediately following that one.  This shows you are busy too and that you value time.
  • Your preparation for meetings has to be phenomenal - not great – phenomenal.  You need to have a good understanding of your prospect(s) personally and professionally.  Check them out on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Learn about their company, their competition, recent news, wins, growth or decline and any cutting edge advantages they have in the marketplace.
  • Keep everything clear, concise and simple

This will feel uncomfortable at first and will take some practice.

The naysayers will rebut this information presented to you here with the following excuses – my competition is too great, I have to sell on price, I’m at the mercy of my prospects, I don’t want to offend anyone, I have a quote to meet, etc.

If you have that mentality you will continue to get run over and disrespected.  In addition, you’ll continue to look like everyone else out there – vanilla. Dare to stand out and practice gaining and keeping control of your prospects.  Your wins will certainly go up and you’ll have a lot more fun.

Greg McKinney is a respected sales leader and is nationally know as a speaker, sales coach and consultant.  He believes in helping others and serving the good of humanity.  His phenomenally popular website is a must see for all sales leaders, small business owners and sales professionals.

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