Hero image of Brian McCauley, ProSales columnist

The approaching end of the year afforded me an opportunity to look back on my columns that have been published in 2023 and pick out a few of my favorite messages.

Quit Selling to Happy People!! You walk into a builder or contractor’s office, and they are happy where they presently buy their products, happy with the people they deal with, happy with the service, happy with the products purchased, and happy with the price. What do you have to be to have a shot at that business? The answer to that question is cheaper.

So, the next time you find yourself in front of a contractor who states that they are happy where they presently buy their products, instead of asking for something to bid or quote, try this: It’s good to hear you are happy with your present supplier, that is a positive for both of your businesses, those long term, stable relationships. Heck, I’ve got a multitude of happy customers myself, but I also understand that what’s happy today may not be happy next week, next month or next year. People change, processes change, products change and pricing changes. When happy becomes unhappy, contractors can find themselves behind the proverbial 8-Ball, trying to rectify situations caused by a supplier problem and identify an alternative supplier for business going forward. I’ve found it’s better to identify alternative suppliers while things are going well. That way, if anything ever happens with your present supplier, it will be much easier to plug in the alternative supplier and move on. What I’d like to do over the next several weeks is come see you a couple times and share why dozens of companies just like yours in this market choose to do business with us, with the goal of earning a shot as your alternative supplier. How does that sound?

Can Sales Really Be That Simple? Sales can sometimes be perceived as a complex profession, but your journey through your sales career can be simplified and more profitable if you focus on these three simple thoughts.

  • Be Sincere: You can’t fake your way through a successful sales career. You must sincerely want to help people and their businesses, sincerely want to build relationships, and sincerely want to strive to be a professional.
  • Find Problems to Solve: Don’t use your time in a sales call to try and sell somebody something, instead identify problems and demonstrate how you are uniquely positioned to solve the problems.
  • Be Confident in your Price to Solve Problems: A salesperson’s anxiety over price can cause a lack of confidence when the time comes to deliver their price to a customer. This lack of confidence makes salespeople susceptible to demands by customers for discounting, price matching, etc. It reminds me of a phrase I recently heard: When you realize what you are worth, you will quit giving people discounts.

Can Our Desire to Be Liked Hold Us Back? Being liked by customers is important, but don’t confuse “liked” in business with “liked” in your personal life. They are different and must be treated as such. Our desire to be liked as a person stems from the approval we seek as children. Our entire childhood was spent seeking and working for approval from parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and other authority figures we interacted with daily. Approval was often followed by rewards of varying types. At a young age we quickly linked the approval to the rewards and wanted to continue pleasing those around us…we wanted to be liked. In many people this thirst for likability follows us into adulthood. Now, let’s look at couple of ways this need for approval can cost a lot of money in our sales career. There are two parts of a sales call that are in direct competition with being liked or being approved of. They are cold calling and asking for the business. Why? Because they are ripe for rejection. Cold calling has always been an important activity, but it’s going to be even more important this year and beyond because all economic indicators point towards a dip in our industry. You better have a plan for getting back in the habit of regular cold calling and seeking new business opportunities. Secondly, when you ask somebody for an order you run the risk of hearing “No.” And that lack of approval, or rejection could impact your willingness to ask everybody you present a proposal or quote to, to place that order with you. Always ask for the order.

Happy New Year, and Happy Selling!!