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Can we agree never to do this?

As a potential client, the worst sales call I ever endured was with a Sales Guy for one of the world’s most popular coaching programs, led by perhaps the most famous coach of all.

As I transitioned from corporate life to entrepreneurship, I wanted to get support with all the emotional and tactical challenges I was having, and I figured, “Hey, why not? Let’s try the best in the world!”

After filling out the forms and confirming a time with an appointment setter, it was time to hop on a call with the Sales Guy.

He seemed a bit slick, and a bit brash — but I’d worked with similar Sales Guys throughout my career who had hearts of gold, so I proceeded to share openly about what was working in my life and what wasn’t.

I focused more on my entrepreneurial concerns, but when pressed for more pain points, also added that health and fitness were in the mix, too.

Sales Guy focused on fitness. He didn’t seem to care about the business I was building.

He asked me how much I weighed. He asked me how often I work out.

Flabbergasted and stammering, I actually SHARED these things. (Yeah, I know, I couldn’t believe it, either — but when we’re seeking help, we can become vulnerable in ways that bad salespeople can exploit.)

Then came the pitch.

I listened politely, slowly moving out of shock and back into myself.

Hoping to get off the phone quickly, I said, “Thanks, I’m going to think about it.”

And that’s when it got really bad…

His reply to my soft objection was: “Do you really want your husband looking over you in a hospital bed after you’ve had a heart attack?”

OKAY. ENOUGH.

I told him I was done.

Sales Guy told me: “Call us back when you’re serious.”

I hung up.

So, let’s tally it up: Sexism and sizeism. Arrogance and shaming.

This call happened years ago, and yet I’m just finding the confidence and voice to share it. For a long time I felt at fault: I should have known better. I shouldn’t have answered his questions so honestly. I should have hung up ages before I did.

I’m not sharing this story for sympathy or for shock value (though, it is shocking). Rather, there’s a big lesson here for all of us about urgency.

Urgency is important in the selling process. Especially for us service providers, if the potential client feels no urgency, it’s much more difficult to sign them on.

That said, there are two different kinds of urgency:

1. Authentic Urgency: Urgency that comes honestly and organically from the potential client.

2. Manufactured Urgency: Urgency that is manufactured by the seller.

Manufactured Urgency sounds like what that sales guy said to me — often leveraging fear, intimidation and shame.

Authentic Urgency sounds like us asking potential clients open-ended, inviting questions to help them assess their own urgency and make the right buying decisions for them:

 

— How important is this issue right now?

— By when would you like to see some improvement with this?

— What happens if this issue isn’t resolved for you? For your business? For your family?

 

Sure, some of these questions are tough. They get to the heart of the matter. But that’s the difference: heart.

When done with genuine curiosity, integrity and love, these questions aren’t manipulative — they’re of service.

In her book Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership, Colleen Stanley says the goal of a sales conversation is really one thing: “Seek the truth and do the right thing.”

To seek the truth, it’s important to uncover urgency — but certainly not at the expense of our clients (and our integrity).

If you’d like to explore topics like this further, and lean into a more authentic, compassionate sales process, I invite you to my next free Sales Roundtable. Join me and a group of thoughtful, growth-minded entrepreneurs and small business owners as we tackle sales challenge and keep our businesses moving forward.

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