Everyone has heard of writer’s block – hours and hours spent in front of a blank page or computer screen trying to get that business proposal or strategy ready for tomorrow’s meeting. But seller’s block? Really?
“Believe it,” said Doug Tucker, managing director of sales organisation Sales Commando. “It is the primary cause of sales underperformance. Missed sales targets, lack of motivation and lost sales opportunities amongst sales professionals are more likely down to this phenomenon of seller’s block than a lack of ability or commitment.”
According to Tucker, seller’s block is the condition of being unable to think of how to proceed with selling – and he warned it can afflict anyone in the sales profession even those who have undergone extensive training or have a strong sales record.
“Until now there’s never been a proper explanation of why many sales professionals’ performances hit a brick wall,” he explained. “The traditional response has always been for the sales team leader to blame the sales pro and the sales pro to blame him or herself.
“This leads to a whole host of energy sapping, knee-jerk reactions that affect all parties both negatively and at cost. Label the same situation seller’s block and you not only have a rational explanation but a route to resolving the matter that precludes firings, job-hopping and related anxieties.”
He said the most common causes of seller’s block are a combination of timing, fear and perfectionism.
“Timing is pressure based. If the sales pro is faced with strict deadlines and a seemingly insurmountable workload or sales target the mind can quite naturally go blank. The trick here is to take a step back and compartmentalise each area of stress, breaking the cause of pressure down into easily achievable chunks,” he advised.
“Fear may manifest itself within a sales pro as a negative reaction to the product or service. This can be resolved by undertaking more research and digging deeper into the product or service before actually trying to assemble a target list of prospects or, if that’s done, writing up a pitch.”
He adds that perfectionism can translate into the feeling of unworthiness that no matter how much effort is put into a pitch, it will all be in vain. This can quite often be triggered by a previous poor sales experience and, as identified in Freud’s Repetition Compulsion theory, poor experience can be difficult to move forward from.
Tucker said: “Not believing in your product or service, being a slave to rules, time and pressure, being too hard on yourself or believing that you can’t achieve what your inner self is driving you to do are all symptoms of seller’s block. And like any disease, once diagnosed a cure can quite often be easily found.”
But what is the cure?
Tucker said it can be as simple as taking a break from an aggravating situation. “Rather than going round in circles, walk away and do something else. It’s surprising how even the shortest time away can breathe fresh air into a problem upon return,” he said.
“Seller’s block has yet to be officially recognised and yet its effects are felt almost universally within the sales profession. In a world that is getting ever more competitive, the time is right to out the condition and treat it with the sympathy that it deserves.”
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