Yesterday, we were in a small seaside village and in a nautical gift shop, I read this sailing quote:
"The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails."
Translated for selling:
"The pessimist complains about the prospect. The optimist expects him to buy. The realist adjusts the sales strategy."
Let's look at these three points a little more closely, shall we?
The pessimist: Sure, the pessimist will complain about the prospect, but more specifically, that the prospect wasn't open, was hostile, talking with competitors, wouldn't share a budget, wanted only a proposal, wouldn't commit to anything, blocked him from reaching a decision-maker, etc. If this is normal buyer behavior, then this calls for a salesperson! All salespeople must be able to navigate around and push through these common issues or we really can't call them salespeople.
The optimist: The optimist has happy ears. The bigger the opportunity, the better the opportunity. The better they got along, the better the chance of a sale. The longer they talked, the shorter the sales cycle. Optimists are just as much of a liability as pessimists because they don't inspect or question what they hear. They assume that everything will be okay. While a positive attitude is good, it can be terribly frustrating!
The realist: This is exactly who you need on your sales force. Salespeople must be optimistic about their outcomes, but pessimistic about the things that could go wrong to derail the opportunity and prepared to overcome them. The realist is flexible enough to be both pessimistic and optimistic at the appropriate times.
So, sailing, selling - the approach is the same except that while wind helps to expand your sails, having salespeople who are full of air doesn't help to expand your sales.
Most salespeople are good at talking and presenting - they are full of air - but 74% of them are ineffective when it comes to listening and asking good questions. How about your sales force?