A recent article I read by golf pro, Tom Patri, discusses how to eliminate five “unforced errors” in golf. Eliminating unforced errors applies to the sales profession as well. As Patri says “Through the years, I've watched a number of shots carelessly thrown away—not due to a player’s skill level—but due to one’s inability to either manage their emotions, the course, or both.”
Over the years, I have seen this very thing in our sales profession. Unforced errors result in lost sales and these lost sales may happen, not because of a salesperson’s skill level, but because of one’s inability to manage the course (product knowledge), one’s emotions, and the sales process.
The first example in Patri’s article is the golfer who hits a poor shot and makes an unforced error by trying to hit a great shot to recover from the bad one. As Patri says, "You didn't get in this position because you were in control of your ball. What makes you think you can thread the needle in your recovery shot? Play back to safety." We, as salespeople, need to understand ourselves and our motivations and always play within ourselves.
You've just left a sales call and you realize that you started off totally wrongly. Maybe you made assumptions about the customer’s likes and dislikes, or needs, or issues. Don't try to correct the situation by putting yourself in a worse position. Play back to safety. Make a new appointment. Start over. Admit your error and get back into play.
I once played in a music group when the lead singer and guitarist started the set by playing all the wrong chords and then blamed it on the fact that it was a new guitar and he wasn't used to it. We were all embarrassed by his unforced error and the fact that he didn't just apologize and start over.
I have stated in several previous blog posts: when your gut tells you that things aren’t going right, believe your gut. And then fix it. Get back into play. Don’t stick your head in the sand and hope it all works out. Admit your error, fix the issue and get the sale.
In Part II, we'll talk about how emotions can cause unforced errors.