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The Illusion of Selling

One of the worst objections a salesperson can hear is: “Could you send me some information?” It’s not that you can’t turn that objection around; it’s just that you know the prospect has no intention of ever looking at it. Besides, even if they do look at it do you really think they’re going to fully understand it? And, if they have questions, do you think they’re going to run right to the phone and call you for the answers?

Let’s face it. All information gets shipped to the same address: 1 Garbage Can Drive!

But now, here’s the real issue; many salespeople love to send out information because when you send information you never have to actually hear the word, “No,” while appearing to be doing something. It’s called the illusion of selling. It’s the ability to do sales-like activities where you don’t actually have to ask someone to buy, thereby avoiding rejection.

There are many examples of this:

  • Salespeople who visit the same clients all the time. I say “visit,” because that’s what they do. They don’t actually do any selling. They “Hang out.” It’s a great way of covering your ass, because you can fill out a report that shows you were seeing clients, thereby keeping your manager off your back.
  • Email. What a great non-threatening way of keeping in touch with people without ever having to speak with them and risk the chance they might turn you down for business. I love email, but not as the be-all and end-all, but more as an add-on to actual client contact; such as phone calls and face to face visits.
  • Paperwork. Salespeople love to complain about how much paperwork they have. The standard complaint is: “I’d love to sell more, but I have so much paperwork to do, I don’t have time to make the calls.” However, if you read between the lines the actual comment should be: “If I sit around doing paperwork, I’ll look busy without having to go out and get rejected.” Of course, the best way to eliminate paperwork is to stop selling. Soon there’ll be no paperwork, simply because there’ll be no customers.

The problem with the mediocre to poor salesperson is they will do anything to not have to sell. Here’s a great real-life example sent to me as a blog comment by Brad Trnavsky, a sales and management blogger:

“I had an outside rep that worked for me for about two months. He ignored every piece of advice I gave him and just walked around downtown passing out info packets and collecting business cards. Guess what; in two months he passed out hundreds of info packets and did not make one sale. It’s probably why he only lasted 2 months.

The bummer of it all is, the guy had skill, and could quote every sales book ever written. He was just too afraid to ASK for a sale.”

As you can see, participating in the illusion of selling can only take you so far; 2 months for the salesperson in the example above. This always amazes me because if these same salespeople put as much effort into selling as they do into the illusion of selling, they’d do a lot more business and make a lot more money.

There’s a huge difference between people who are “busy” vs. people who are actually getting things done. It’s great to be a hard worker, but it’s even better to be a smart worker. Even better yet, find someone who can combine both.

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