As my daughter’s recent dispute with a classmate demonstrates, the easy way isn’t always the best way. Although Mary Jane was tempted to find a different friend after arguing with Maddie, I knew this approach would be easier in the short term, but damaging in the long term. So we talked through what it means to encourage Maddie, have her back, and be there for her. I told her that if you want a friend, you have to be a friend, which isn’t always easy. But it is better. And hopefully it sets Mary Jane up to resolve conflicts rather than trying to find someone new every time a relationship gets hard.
Think of your salespeople. Each time they make a request, consider whether they’re asking for something that makes their situation easier or something that makes them better. When they’re asking you to make their situation easier, you have an opportunity to teach them something that will make them better and improve their lives far beyond the current circumstance.
Let’s look at how this applies to three specific examples:
Salesperson asks for a phase release:
The grass is always greener on the lot in the next phase. When a salesperson (we’ll call him Jay) says a prospect is asking about a lot in the next phase, dig a little deeper to find out what caused the prospect to start thinking about the new possibility instead of focusing on current options. Did the customer bring it up or did Jay? If the prospect mentioned it first, did Jay get their hopes up by telling them it would be ready soon?
Jay might think he wants you to release the next phase so he can nail down the sale, but instead, use this moment to improve his sales process. Coach him to redirect customers by saying something like, “That lot won’t be released soon, and when it does, the prices will be higher, so let’s focus here and work on staying within your budget.” Your coaching will make Jay better.
Salesperson asks to lower the price on an inventory home:
We’ve all seen this one before. The home has been sitting for months—maybe with poor design choices or on the smallest lot in the development. The salesperson (we’ll call her Jenna) believes the only winning solution is to lower the price. While Jenna may be able to sell the home easier if you compromise, she’ll be better off learning how to think differently and sell through the obstacles.
Talk about how many people have come in looking for smaller lots or why people have chosen this particular model above all others. Use the reasons, and coach her to say something like, “I can’t wait for you to see this house. So many have loved this floor plan because of x, y, z.” Teach Jenna to continue the process even when prospects bring up something they don’t like about the home, rather than being defeated by her own thoughts that say it just isn’t sellable. She might say, “Let’s see what you think about the rest of the home and then come back to this.”
Teaching Jenna how to get the customer to lock on to what they do love rather than what they don’t will win her more sales in the long term, while changing the price only gets her the sale that day. Making circumstances easier in the moment will eventually catch up with you—with lowered profit margins, for example—damaging all you and your team have worked so hard for. If you concede, you miss the opportunity to make her (and your company) better—a sustainable strategy.
Salesperson has a bad working relationship with someone:
When a salesperson asks you to intervene with a coworker, you might be tempted to take the fastest route—talking to the person and settling the dispute yourself. This might be faster (and we all face that temptation in our busy schedules), but there’s a much more effective approach—one that teaches the salesperson to make the relationship right and resolve the dispute. Teach them to see the world through the other person’s eyes and consider the common goal they share. By talking through how to work toward the goal together, you equip the salesperson to have the conversation needed to make things right.
Sometimes the harder route really is best. Going forward, ask yourself if you are making things easier (for yourself, your team, your kids, etc.) or making them better so they are equipped to handle the situation in the future. Making the situation easier may win a sale or get something off your agenda in the short term, but coaching your salespeople to be better is the best choice. Asking for things to be easier is a fool’s choice and a fool only wins sometimes. We want to win all of the time.