Why Salespeople Don’t Ask Questions And What Can Be Done About It

The high pressure environment of sales will most likely see you rejected if you make meek attempts; but, every strong attempt will be rewarded, I promise you…

The novice salesperson would rather ‘die with her problems’ than ask for help. In fact, this in itself is a significant reason why sales turnover remains on an all-time high. This is the general trend it takes. The novice salesperson is taken through the product knowledge and sometimes even sales training. With her engines revving, the eager beaver takes to the field like a coiled spring unleashed. And the field, as it does with every novice, responds in unyielding fashion.  The heat of rejection burns down on the salesperson and the roaring engine subsides to a mere meow, and then, silence. The beaten salesperson at this juncture is looking for the exit signs. And her dwindling poor performance accelerates this. Now she firmly believes all the harsh things she’d been told about selling and why she shouldn’t. Meantime, she silently wonders how others in her team are selling, seemingly effortlessly. But she doesn’t ask for help. There are reasons why this happens

First, selling can be lonely. Sales hunting is not done in packs. In fact, most successful sales people tend to be loners. They feel taking on a novice will slow them down and so they abrasively demonstrate it and the green horn, feeling rejected, shies away.  Next, the very nature of sales is competitive; competition is bolstered to set apart not pull together. But the number one reason, in my view, why salespeople rarely ask for help is this: they do not want to be seen as foolish. Let’s look at each of these with possible solutions.

Assisting in overcoming internal rejection is the sales manager’s job. The new recruit needs to be cushioned for a while before being let out into the wild. In some cases this could take as many as three months. Like a new born, this incubation period is intended to build the novice’s (sales) immune system. During this period the manager assigns the ‘infant’ salesperson to a mature one, and monitors the infant’s growth for compatibility. Yes. Not all successful salespeople make good sales mentors. If the chemistry is not right, then the manager re-assigns the new recruit to another salesperson.  He may also decide to take the new recruit under his wing instead of re-assigning her.  Even after a successful incubation period, intermittently taking the pulse of the progress of the new recruit through observations; randomly accompanying her on field visits; and, engaging other salespeople for feedback, is important in helping the novice seller develop her own roots.

Instead of using compensation to set the salespeople apart, a company undergoing restructure opted to use compensation to grow the sales team differently. Compensation was pegged on the improvement of the assigned apprentice. The results were incredible. The novices sold more in three months than any other novice sales people had in that company’s history. In fact, retrenchment was replaced with retention.  Contrary to popular belief, sales compensation need not always be used to ignite competition; it can also be used to fire up cooperation.

All the foregoing, however, can go down the drain if the salesperson believes asking for help is taboo. Selling goes against the societal grain. But here’s the thing: the problems you are facing are not unique to you. All salespeople, even the ones you admire are going, or have gone through them.  Be the one to break the limiting belief that ‘I don’t want to be seen as foolish or bothersome’. Kuuliza si ujinga (Asking does not make you stupid) Reach out. Ask of your manager and ask of your team members and ask in online sales community forums too. The high pressure environment of sales will most likely see you rejected if you make meek attempts; but, every strong attempt will be rewarded, I promise you. And why? Because it shows you possess an indispensable quality for successful selling: persistence.

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