The Power of Letting Go

sales meeting
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Sales is a highly stressful profession. There is a high level of uncertainty in most sales positions; how well you do, your status with your coworkers and manager, even how much money you make is partly dependent on factors you can't control. Many salespeople try to cope with this uncertainty by leaping on every opportunity that offers to close a sale. They'll seize every prospect in a death grip and pull out all the stops, trying anything and everything to get them to buy (sometimes even stooping to less-than-ethical sales tactics).

This is, to put it mildly, not a healthy approach to the job. In fact, it's problematic for everyone involved. It's bad for the salesperson because obsessing over issues you can't control is the prescription for an ulcer, if not an early heart attack. Of course, you also won't get much enjoyment out of your job in the meantime if every moment is spent in a high state of anxiety over getting more sales. And it's bad for the prospects because they'll either find themselves buying products they didn't really need, or they'll seize the opportunity to run roughshod over the salesperson, using his desperation to control the situation.

Instead of throwing yourself into the sales process as though every prospect was the last chance you would ever have to make a sale, why not try letting go a little? The famous Serenity Prayer reads, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference." This is an excellent maxim for salespeople to adopt.

No salesperson can control whether or not a prospect will buy. All you can control is your own actions; you can take steps to encourage the prospect to buy, but in the end, he's the one who will be making the decision. So instead of focusing on closing the sale, try focusing on something you can control: your own attitude and behavior.

Don't aim to close the sale, aim to find out what the prospect needs and present him with a way to get it.

If you can teach yourself to change your focus in this manner, you will ironically find that you're closing more sales than ever before. That's because your confidence level has a huge effect on how prospects will respond to you. And once you're focusing on things you know you can control, you will be far more confident. On the other hand, a salesperson who is desperate to close the sale naturally radiates desperation, which either sends prospects running for the hills or inspires them to bully the poor salesperson into giving them a ridiculously good deal.

One powerful way to help you let go of your desperation is to tell every prospect during your first meeting, "I'm here to advise you of the best solution for your issues. It's fine if you don't buy from me; that might not be the best solution for you." Say it like you mean it. With practice, you'll find you mean it more each time and that attitude change will begin to affect your entire sales process for the better.

Letting go has another advantage for you: you'll find it easier to quickly drop prospects who don't offer you a strong chance of closing the sale.

If you're not desperate to close, you'll be able to do a much better job of qualifying prospects and as a result you'll be spending more time with people who might actually buy from you. You'll be able to quickly shut down prospects who throw obvious red flags at you, instead of clinging to them in the hopes that it will all somehow work out. That will definitely have a positive effect on your sales numbers – and thus help you to raise your confidence level even higher for the next prospect.

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