Baseline Selling Tip: What if Your Approach Backfires?

Salespeople react very differently when it comes to sales techniques. I think it’s because most salespeople don’t really understand the part of selling that relies on techniques. I’ve seen it over and over again in my 21 years in the sales development business – salespeople hear the technique, learn the technique and use the technique. The problem is, that’s not the purpose of a technique. You shouldn’t ever have to use a technique!

Whether your selling process is the four bases from Baseline Selling or you follow another selling system, you shouldn’t have to use a single technique to execute that process. Just have a conversation to move through each step.  Ask questions. Why? Techniques could cause more trouble than they might solve.  So what are all those techniques, including the ones I introduced in Baseline Selling, for?  They’re for when you are in trouble. They should be treated like Emergency Call Boxes, Fire Alarms, the 911 Emergency System, the Civil Defense System and the Emergency Broadcast System. Techniques should be left in your tool bag except in case of emergency.

So what is an emergency? The call is going nowhere. Your prospect is disinterested. You’re unable to get the budget. Your questions aren’t getting answered. You can’t handle their objections. They won’t return your calls. You can’t get them to the phone. They said no. They want to think it over. They gave you a stall or put-off…

Now you can pull out all the stops. But only for situations like these. If the call is going fine, no techniques. Running into trouble? Getting some serious resistance? Technique time.

Here’s where salespeople react differently. A small percentage of salespeople aren’t comfortable with techniques that get you out of trouble or salvage a call gone bad.  They think techniques won’t work, may be transparent, are tricks, or even lies. Here’s Rick Roberge’s example of a trick: You had an appointment to close your prospect on Tuesday at 1 PM. When you call at the scheduled time, your prospect doesn’t come to the phone. You repeat this process five times over a two-week period, leave messages, still don’t hear from him, and it’s clear he’s hiding from you and doesn’t want to take your calls. Finally, on attempt number seven, out of desperation, when the gatekeeper asks who’s calling, you say, “Santa Claus”.

Ultimately, salespeople want to know, “What if the technique backfires?”

If you’re using a technique at the right time and in the right situation, how can it backfire any worse than not getting the business? In other words, at the point where you decide to use the technique, you’re already up the creek, so how can you be in any worse shape after you pull out the technique?

Selling requires that you do what it takes to succeed. Those who can effectively use techniques when they need to are in the top half of their sales organizations.  Those who aren’t comfortable with it aren’t as successful either.