When you meet a doctor, they introduce themselves as DOCTOR so-and-so. When you meet a lawyer, they often say “I’m an attorney.” When you meet an executive, they don’t try to hide it. But when you meet a sales person, you get an explanation.
Why do we sales people so often feel the need to make excuses for being in sales? It’s time we embrace our inner-sales elephant—and profit from it.
Why are you the elephant in the room?
An elephant in the room is something glaringly obvious. Something we all see. Something in the room that creates discomfort or mistrust and yet nobody will acknowledge it.
It’s not easy being in sales. We stand out. We make people uncomfortable. Prospects know that we’re there to sell to them, and by nature, that makes them question our authenticity and look for indications that reinforce their suspicions. As these perceptions go unacknowledged, you are left standing as the proverbial elephant in the room.
So why pretend otherwise? You’re a freaking elephant, standing in the room! Embrace it. Address it. Trumpet it! Why not let the obviousness of who you are become your power? Why not point it out right at the beginning, announcing, “I’m a GINORMOUS ELEPHANT!” Use blatant humor to deflate the discomfort. Disarm their mistrust right from the beginning.
Elephant selling is the art of mitigating the negative bias of what normally goes unsaid, by calling attention to it and bringing humor to an otherwise uncomfortable situation.
When I engage with an enterprise prospect, I quickly acknowledge myelephantness. I highlight the fact that I’m a sales person and that I’ve come to sell them something that will help their business. I acknowledge that the prospect is inherently cautious of me being a sales person and humorously accept that we sit on opposite sides of the table for a reason. We both know that I make a living as a sales person and that my motivation is to close a deal. I don’t dance around and pretend that I’m a consultant, an ally or a partner. I’m a sales person: we elephants don’t dance; we make sales!
Elephant Selling is honesty.
It’s amazing how effective blatant honesty can be in sales. When you acknowledge that you’re a sales person, that you’re there to sell, and that you’re there to make money, you rip the Band-Aid right off the unspoken dialogue. Nothing is wrong with exposing that, provided that you can deliver value in the near term. Tell your prospect that you plan to earn their business earnestly and honestly. And then do it. Outline exactly what you plan to do and how you plan to go about it before you begin. Demonstrate that you are fully prepared to earn their trust and business despite their preconceived notions about sales people.
Elephant Selling is transparency.
Don’t try to hide anything. You’re an elephant, you can’t hide. Come prepared. Don’t waste time. Ask questions that help you quickly understand if you have an opportunity. Explain why you’re asking those particular questions and what you hope to accomplish.
“I’d like to ask you some specific questions to gain context for the rest of the conversation. I will explain what I am hearing as we go along and connect my questions, your answers and our businesses.”
The prospect isn’t there to educate you on their business but will respect and answer your questions if you connect the dots along the way.
Elephant Selling demonstrates respect.
Continuously acknowledge your prospect’s time as a sign of respect. Prove to your prospect that you’re worth their time. TELL THEM that is your intention. Even though you secured the meeting, you still need to demonstrate respect for their busy schedule. “How are we doing on time?” Think of it as continuously earning the right to move through your pitch, even after you’ve landed the meeting. Keep earning their time.
Prospects are inherently suspicious of sales people. Don’t confirm their suspicion by providing an excuse for what you do. Your power can come from pointing out the obvious and disarming the resistance that comes from discomfort and mistrust. Put a spotlight on the presumptions. Laugh about it with your prospects throughout the process, over and over again. Endeavor to be different. Be human. Be honest. Be relevant. Be humble. Be the enchanting elephant that closes deals!