Best of ColoradoBiz: Expectations for sales success

We never know what is going to happen next in life, but we almost always have expectations about it. Everything we do and say is based on our expectations. We turn the key in the ignition and expect the car to start. We wake up the baby and expect to hear a cry. We call our mother and expect to hear how we never call our mother. Are we sometimes surprised? Sure! Sometimes the car doesn’t start, the baby doesn’t cry, or our mother doesn’t make us feel guilty. But our expectations, right or wrong, almost always affect our actions. Your negative expectations may be keeping you from achieving sales success.  

How? Lets look at an everyday scenario, like starting your car:

1. In the first scenario, your car’s been running just fine. When you slide behind the wheel you think about where to stop for coffee and make a mental note to pick up the dry cleaning. You put the key in the ignition, adjust the radio, and check your rearview mirror as you back out of your parking space.

2. In the second scenario you’ve had several problems with the starter. You sit at the wheel with a slight sense of dread, wondering if you’ll have to call AAA and just how late you will be for your meeting.  Your attention is focused on placing the key in the ignition “just right.” You turn it, listening for that telltale click and look to see if the engine light comes on. You breathe a sigh of relief as you make your way out of your parking garage, reminding yourself to get the starter checked before the warranty expires, and in the process…you completely forget about picking up the dry cleaning.

The car starts easily in both instances, but an entirely different set of behaviors and results come from your expectations.  Since you really don’t know what is coming, why not have your expectations work for you instead of against you?  Ask yourself the following six questions:

1. What do you expect to happen on your next cold call, appointment, or presentation?
2. Is your expectation negative or positive?  Are you making a phone call or walking into a business with the expectation that they’re happy with their current vendor?  Or do you anticipate that they have a possible need for your product or service?
3. What are you using to reinforce your expectation?  It’s human nature to jump on the first sign that validates our expectation: a curt secretary, an unresponsive prospect, or even a busy signal can be used to support our negative outlook. 
4. How do you react?  Do you turn apologetic and rush through your call when a prospect sounds busy?  Or do you maintain course?
5. Are you taking it personally?  Are you too quick to assume that the other person’s state has something to do with you—even when you’ve just met the person?!
6. What is the best-case scenario?  As Colleen Stanley states in her insightful and practical book, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success, if your expectations aren’t working for you, “Change your story!”  Consider that your prospect has a need and may be anxious to find out about the solution.  If that is your expectation, even if the person sounds hurried, you might assume she is dealing with a heavy workload.  Or just hung up with her attorney and you are a welcome break!

The point isn’t whether you’re right or wrong about your expectations but that they are either working for you or against you.  Notice the difference in your tone, your attitude and your behavior when you are talking to people who you believe are happy to hear from you and that you know you can help.  Start taking control of your expectations and you’ll have more control over your sales success.

Categories: Sales & Marketing