Most of us agree that bonding and rapport with clients or prospects is a critical element of any good selling system. Few would argue with the axiom that “all things being equal people will choose to buy from someone they like and trust”. The ability to establish a strong bond and possessing a high “likeability” factor are incredibly important in selling but taking it too far can be counter productive when aspiring to achieve higher results as a seller.
Most good predictive hiring assessments utilized in evaluating sales talent have a category that assesses a sales person’s need for approval in a selling situation. This category is named a bit differently in various assessment tools but what it measures is the salesperson’s level of desire to get their own emotional needs met with prospects and customers. Why is that bad? Because the higher the need for approval by the salesperson the less likely they will be to ask the tougher questions for fear of upsetting a customer.
At Sandler Training we have a saying that gets to the heart of the matter. The saying is, “If you feel it say it, but gently.” That means you need to have enough of a backbone as a professional seller to ask the appropriate questions even if they are a little uncomfortable for you and the prospect.
Salespeople who have a high strength desire to seek approval will resist saying or asking anything they feel might risk upsetting a prospect or might be perceived as "challenging" the prospect as the bestselling book “The Challenger Sale” puts it. In order to add value to the sales process a seller needs to be courageous enough to ask the tough questions, occasionally push back on the prospect, and risk a little discomfort in the process..
The term “consultative sales” is tossed around frequently these days but asking tough questions is the stock-in-trade of the consulting field. Think of it this way, would YOU hire a consultant that never disagreed with you or didn’t offer solutions that challenged your thinking for fear of offending you?