Creating Confidence: Overcoming Resentment to Boost Your Sales

by Linda P. Kester November/December 2016
Have you ever wondered why two salespeople working for the same company can have completely different experiences? Linda Kester says this all comes down to attitude. A confident rep will attract customers, while those who focus on fear and resentment are more likely to make bad decisions. She offers tips to create self-confidence and build new customer relationships.

I recently met a sales rep (let’s call him Dario) who believed his company’s rates were too high. Every time he got an application, he would encounter some type of rate objection. He would end up discounting the deal, or the lessee would go elsewhere.

While we were talking, Dario went off on a complete rant about his job. “My sales manager offers no support,” he said. “The pressure to meet my goals every month is terrible.” He resented the politics in his office. He thought the other reps were getting better leads. His territory sucked, and he had no training.

He described his sales manager as a jackhammer “just pounding and pounding away at me.”

It’s human nature to want to talk about disappointments. We need to share our hurts, and it’s nice to vent to someone who is compassionate and non-judgmental. But Dario wasn’t just venting, he was wallowing. He had been unhappy with his employer for so long that he could only see the bad aspects of his job.

In my workshops, I ask salespeople to list the objections that they frequently encounter. Surprisingly, these are always same, regardless of the leasing company’s location or specific equipment niche. The top objections include:

  1. Your rates are too high.
  2. We are happy with our current provider.
  3. We don’t offer leasing.
  4. We let customers pick their own finance company.
  5. All my customers pay cash.

I have been in leasing companies across North America, but never with the company that offers the absolute lowest rates.

The strange thing is, two sales people from the same company can have completely different experiences. One salesperson continually complains about rates, while the person who sits right next to him never gets price objections.

Can it be possible that reps bring the rate objection on themselves? If you think rates are too high, do you somehow project that into the customer’s mind? Is the rep creating this problem?

If you keep complaining about something — high rates, slow credit decisions — you will get more of it. You are giving energy to what you don’t want. The way out of a problem is to think about what you want. Dario really wanted more sales.

Confidence Sells

I wanted to tell Dario that his rate issue has a lot to do with confidence. If he increased his self-confidence, he would get fewer objections. I encouraged him to recall a time and situation where he was very confident and to revisit this memory when someone asked about rates.

In 1999, I was on a panel at a NAELB meeting in St. Louis. About 20 minutes into the seminar, someone asked me a question, and I jumped up from my seat, took the microphone off the stand and started walking across the stage. I was so sure of myself. My prospecting knowledge had me feeling pumped, and I had to share my techniques because they worked. At the end of the meeting, one of the other panelists said, “You made the rest of us look boring.”

Now, when someone asks what my fees are, I pause for a couple seconds and mentally put myself back in that conference room in St. Louis. I let that feeling of confidence wash over me and then state my price.

While inner confidence opens doors of opportunity, fear has the opposite effect. When a rep is fearful, he will immediately drop his rate. I’ve seen salespeople so afraid of losing their jobs that they were willing to do almost anything to bring in business. They just wanted to stop feeling afraid. Lack of confidence often leads to bad decision-making.

The Dreaded “R” Word

In addition to confidence, Dario had to face his rate issue. When it comes to rates, many reps feel like they are walking on eggshells or completely panic at the mere mention of the word.

Is the customer asking what the rate is or are they saying it’s too high? These are completely different scenarios.

Are they getting an equipment finance agreement or a lease agreement? What is the buyout option?

If the customer says the rate is too high, what are they using as a basis for comparison? Are they going to take out a loan against their line of credit? If so, plant the seed that it’s better to save a line of credit for an emergency, like a payroll issue, rather than use it for a piece of equipment that could be obsolete in three years.

The Negotiation Game

Being confident and prepared may help to resolve rate objections, but what if a lessee absolutely must negotiate? Try thinking of it as a game and enjoy the process.

We negotiated a lot during our recent kitchen remodel. We interviewed four different cabinetmakers and decided to go with Ron, who put a lot of time into our proposal. He measured twice and produced three different CAD designs of the space. Once we decided on a color, Ron brought the paperwork over to close the deal. We wanted to use Ron and get a good deal, so we went back and forth on the price. If Ron was wishy washy and dropped his price right away, we would have lost confidence in him. Finally we said, “Take off the tax, and you’ll have a deal.”

Ron stood firm. We stood firm. There were about eight awkward seconds. Finally, Ron said, “I’m not going to let this one thing get in the way of us doing business together,” and he ate the tax. Did he have to do that? Not necessarily. He could have offered some other type of concession. We wanted some trade-off. We almost made a sport out of getting the best deal.

Resentment Is Corrosive

At least Ron wasn’t negative and resentful like Dario. If Dario were open to advice, I would tell him to stop wallowing in negativity and start looking for things to appreciate. I would ask him to list the things he liked about his company, possibly the health benefits, commute or nice co-workers.

He could shift his focus toward his strengths, identifying the gifts and talents he brings to the table. He could acquire more knowledge — so many self-improvement resources are available. He could learn to become emotionally resilient and find a group of positive, encouraging people to provide feedback.

Fear, criticism and long-held resentments create pain. They eat away at you. Releasing resentment increases sales productivity and results. Instead of thinking of himself as a victim, Dario had to give his story a different ending. Could he think of himself as a hero? Could he think, “Yes, the rates were high, but I helped the lessee get the equipment she needed to grow her business.” If he was not meeting goals, he could set a goal to read sales books for 30 minutes every morning to create a plan for surpassing his projections. Maybe he could think, “Yes, my sales manager is a complete jerk, but I found a way to work around him.”

To help a rep who is feeling resentful, provide a wave of assurance to let him know he’s supported. Replace some of his fear with encouragement and help him rewrite his story. Give him goals that make him stretch just beyond his comfort zone and then celebrate small victories.

Unfortunately, Dario wasn’t looking for new ideas. He just wanted to feel sorry for himself. He would not listen to even a simple suggestion. His self-centered focus on the negative was only causing him more pain. I hope he gets the boost of confidence he needs to change the ending of his sad story.

Confidence is where inner calm and belief in your capabilities come together. Think about a time when you felt very confident and revisit those feelings before giving a presentation or submitting a proposal. Confidence and credibility will attract people to you. Confidence makes prospects feel like they are in capable hands, making them more likely to choose you and become happy customers.

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