For an intelligent commercial relaunch: always present, never heavy
By Michel Ghazal
In these times of economic crisis, which in many sectors is leading to a relative wait-and-see attitude to decision-making, sales managers are tending to increase the internal pressure on their teams.
In fact, in order to have increasingly sophisticated reporting tables and to respond to the pressure they themselves are under from management, they tend to hold more and more meetings to take stock of achievements compared with objectives. Often, however, the slowdown in business means that little has changed between the planned meeting and the previous one.
As a result, faced with the stress generated, sales staff pass on this pressure to their own customers by harassing them with phone calls which the latter are quick not to answer!
Why is "doing more of the same" ineffective?
"It's not that I don't want to talk to you, but I don't have anything new to tell you and that's why I'm not calling you back, because that would be pointless".they end up saying, a little annoyed, to these over-zealous salespeople
As we have seen, this anxiety, which is passed on to the customer, ends up having negative knock-on effects. The customer will rebel and become even more blocked and, sometimes, may be forced to stop negotiating. If you forget too much that times are hard for everyone, you end up putting too much pressure on your contacts. As a result, they don't so much criticise you for lacking interest in the potential business they bring you, but rather for being insensitive to their own difficulties.
In practical terms, the solution put in place to deal with the current difficulties encountered contributes to exacerbating the problem. In effect, the customer sees these steps as harassment, and they end up making you undesirable in their eyes. Just when you need to make your business relationship more fluid, you end up making it even more difficult.
This process, which involves "repeating an approach that didn't work in the hope that it will eventually pay off, was discovered by the Palo Alto school in California. They called it "doing more of the same". This internal pressure on sales people to be constantly "on the back" of their customers will give rise to another mechanism that is well known to professional negotiators and just as ineffective: exerting pressure to overcome someone's resistance increases the resistance we are trying to overcome.
The solution: value creation meetings?
Doing more is therefore a classic mistake not only in negotiation, communication or management, but also in political decisions and private life.
For example, if the person you are talking to makes an argument and you are quick to refute it with a counter-argument, the person you are talking to, not feeling listened to, will re-explain his or her argument. If, on the other hand, you feel that the other person has not heard you, and you repeat your own argument using different words, not only will the other person feel that they have not been listened to, but they will also feel that you are taking them for a ride. "for an idiot who doesn't understand anything. He will then re-explain his point of view and so on... You are now on two tracks which will have difficulty converging.
The principle in negotiation is to do the opposite of our natural tendency, i.e. to "do less of what you already do".. In our example, rather than counter-arguing, the first step would be to accept the other person's argument and ask them to explain it further. In the next stage, you would reconstruct what you have understood by formulating your customer's argument even better than he presented it himself. By being open in this way, you can then, in a third stage, obtain their agreement to present your own point of view or argument: "Will you now allow me to tell you how I see things?. It will be all the more difficult for him to refuse you if you have already shown your own openness to understanding him.
To help you achieve your objectives, you should therefore hold internal meetings with the aim of looking for ideas that might be of interest to our customer and enabling you to contact them because you have something new to put to them. Calling them with the aim of sharing a new idea with them for the problem they have posed, rather than to hear about your proposal, will give you a much better chance of breaking through the barrier of the "new idea". "nothing has changed since last time"..
Towards intelligent commercial relaunching: always present, never heavy-handed
Yes, following a proposal on which you've invested time, it's not only legitimate to call a customer back because you're showing them interest and consideration, but it also shows that you have respect for your work. So, in order to arouse their interest, at a time when, on the face of it, nothing has changed (otherwise they would have taken the initiative themselves), you need to go beyond the "stupid" call that would consist of just coming to hear about the news. To do this, it's more important than ever to stand out from the competition, bring value to the customerbe creative thanks to the new options available and to be present when your prospect has obtained his internal budget.
At a time when business is tough, here's a more effective way of managing stress by directing it towards solving a problem rather than generating it in your employees or customers. In short: always be present, never a burden.