The training of advertising salespeople has come a long way. Yet one aspect of sales training has not penetrated to the degree it should have after all these years. It is called the “Timidity Factor”.
The thrust of this assertion is that the tendency of role playing at sales training sessions is for advertising salespeople to put prospects and customers on a pedestal and keep them there. But it’s one thing to be polite, quite another to be subservient. Consider a polite phrase like “Thank you for your time”. As innocent as it sounds, it really is saying to the buyer “ You are more important than I am. I’m indebted to you for taking the time to see me.” Wouldn’t it be better to say something like “Enjoyed our visit. You’ll be pleased with our service.” The same approach should be used in ending follow up e-mails or letters. Rather than saying “Should you have any further questions, please feel free to call.” Instead say “I will call you in a few days and we can make some decisions.”
Timidity In Action
When a salesperson waits 30 to 45 minutes to be seen by a buyer, the message is quite clear. This is a non verbal admission that the salesperson’s time is not valuable. The best approach is to ask the secretary or receptionist for some action saying “Please ask Mr. Jones if this is a good time for us to get together. If it isn’t, we can reschedule my visit, and I’ll go on making other calls.”
Here is another action that speaks of timidity. A prospect has no intention on buying the advertising program a salesperson is offering, but they hate to say “No” to anyone. Then they say “Sounds interesting, but tell me, when will you be in the area again? In 2 weeks? Good, see me on your next trip.” Then the salesperson goes back, time after time in the hope that he or she will get an order. There rarely is an order.
Of course, salespeople are told that they must decide how many calls a prospect is worth based on potential, then hopefully lay their cards on the table on the final call to decide if all the calls were worth it.
Many salespeople will insist that they are not timid. They will point to their sales records and claim they never could be successful if they are timid.—and they will rationalize. They will insist that being extra polite is not the same as being timid. There is a fine line between politeness and timidity, and maybe it’s easy to cross the line without realizing it. Timidity has a way of showing up in the most obvious manner. Common sense says otherwise. Timidity does not manifest itself only through what people say. Many actions reflect it as well.
Sales managers should look and listen for timidity when they are making field visits with their salespeople. They also can also screen correspondence between their salespeople and prospects and note timid language to promote awareness of this problem. Finally, a subservient attitude will change the relationship between the buyer and the advertising salesperson—to the detriment of the salesperson.