I am growing concerned.
? The rise of negative selling, due to too much pressure, too little education and support, negatively impacts business performance and the mental health of both buyers and sellers.
Give me a listen and let me know what you think.
Will you join me in making a stand against negative selling?
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I am the collaborator and I’m super, super stoked to be with you today. Now, I started this job as the collaborator, heck, this personal mission of mine as the collaborator. For a number of reasons, first and foremost being, I didn’t believe. And I’m still skeptical of the fact that the enablement profession, sales overall, how businesses go to market, were being fully cared for and respected and appreciated in the way that they needed to be. Now that may sound egotistical and lofty or just plain crazy. But I’ve long believed that we’ve missed an opportunity to better educate ourselves on how, what what great enablement looks like, to educate businesses and universities and governments about why it’s important to the business world and why it’s important to students as a profession to consider why it’s important to every single contingency that I could talk about. So one of the things that has really, that I’ve been paying more attention to has to do with mental health. Through this pandemic, many of us have, we had a great conversation today. In fact, on the sales enablement society, Boston chapter, we had a great working session talking about topics related to mental health and how it relates to sales enablement. But one of the things that I really began to notice over the last couple of months, if not longer, is a resurgence in the practice of negative selling. And I want to mention this, because to me, negative selling, and there’s research to back this both negatively impacts the business that you work for. And I hold enablement professionals, partially responsible for helping raise this concern. It was the businesses themselves that are making these decisions, the business leaders, we as enablement, professionals need to raise our hands up when we see negative things happening. But it also has a negative impact on the mental and physical health of the buyers and the sellers and people involved. And again, scientifically, there’s pretty good data out there that backs this, while not directly tied to negative selling, it’s tied to the behaviors that are associated with it. Now, just for a second, let me just give you a quick walkthrough of negative selling, you should know what it is. But negative selling is simply the bashing of our competitors, the bashing of their products, the bashing of their people. And sometimes, and this is the most disturbing thing that I’ve been seeing, it’s been the the negative, the trash talking, the talking down to prospects who are making decisions to go perhaps with a competitive solution. Not only is that unprofessional, but it’s also feels a lot like we’re in kindergarten running around, and throwing sand in the face of people that don’t agree with us anyway, negative selling happens most often, in my opinion. And in every case that I’ve seen when sellers are not prepared to have effective and helpful value added conversations with the prospects that they’re working with. It’s often the result of poor training, it’s often the result of poor coaching. And sometimes it’s also the result of poor business tactics, by
you know, for lack of a better word, companies that are struggling to hit their numbers, companies that are nervous that you know, the companies or leaders who are worried about missing those numbers, worried about the fact that they’re falling behind whatever, it’s bad all the way around. So for a second, what I wanted to share with you as a part of this article that I wrote and put out was the very reality, the very real situation that occurs is that negative selling bashing of our competition in any way, shape or form, often can lead to negative social implications social media applications that impact the brand’s reputation. And we’ve seen this in examples and I give a couple examples in the article. But picture this situation you’re setting down, you’re having an amazing conversation with a prospect and you happen to throw out something like hey, Sally Smith over at company x does not have a clue, only to find out later that the prospect you’re talking to is really good friends with Sally x or Sally Smith. Company x. And that gets back to them. Perhaps they share that information on social media about how unprofessional you are, maybe, maybe, maybe it’s way too easy for these private conversations, these, these one on one conversations that you think you’re having to leak out, and you owe it to your company, you owe it to yourself, and you owe it to the people, you work with an art tempting to support by selling them solutions to their challenges to act more professionally. Now, the other thing that is important to understand, and look, there’s the data’s kind of clear on this.
But I think there’s probably exceptions to every rule, that when you start negative selling to a prospect, you are putting them on the defensive. Right? You’re saying, Why on earth would you want to go with company x, their products suck, their teams don’t know what they’re doing. If that prospect in the back of their mind has already been considering company x, there is the very real possibility that you put them on the defensive, and they feel the need to come to the defense of that company, you’ve made your selling much harder than it needed to be before. First off, you’ve also made that prospect feel really uncomfortable with you at that moment in time. And that negative perception of you as a seller, that negative feeling about the messages, and the stories that you’re telling will linger with them. And more often than not, you are not going to convince them that you are the company they want to work with, they want to work with a trusted adviser who’s not going to throw them under the bus, blaming them for the for the, you know, the rollout for the solution failing to work for them, they want to work with somebody who’s truly in it to help them succeed. And coming across negative bashing people directly or indirectly is never the way to do it. Now, negative selling is also tied into what psychologists call negative bias. Now, the reality is, I keep saying the reality is many scientific research papers point to the fact that humans have a stronger emotional attachment to negative negative experiences negative outcomes than they do to the positive ones. And it’s easy to think about that you might have a great day going on, you’re having amazing sales conversations, you’re having amazing wins, one bad thing happens and you drive home stewing on that one bad thing that happened, we tend to remember that. Now, when you have the tendency to use negative selling in your conversations, you’ve left a very negative experience, you’ve left that negative experience that doesn’t directly relate actually to the product that you attract shocky, it’s left on you, the prospect that you’re talking to is going to go home, they’re going to remember that negative experience and they’re going to attach it to you. You’re also unless you’re used to doing this and do this all the time, also going to feel a little bit bad about yourself, and those negative feelings are going to build up in you. When customers and prospects complain about these negative behaviors, it’s going to seep into your organization. And ultimately, it’s going to create a negative environment across the entire business. And across those customers that you’re working with. It is not helpful. And it definitely impacts your negative health, it actually definitely impacts your mental and physical health. And in fact, research tends to show that negative bias and really living and stewing in our own negative in our negative biases, as a result of any sort of negative experiences can lead to increased heart rates, it can lead to depression and other negative implications that, frankly, are not worth it. Is it worth winning a single deal if it jeopardizes the health of yourself and those that you’re working with, to win that single deal. And I’ll tell you, you’re probably not even going to win that single deal.
The last thing that I wanted to share with you really around this whole negative selling thing, and not the last thing but the other thing that I’ll mention in terms of negative impact is I’m seeing more and more behaviors that come closer to gaslighting, where you’re making people second guess their perception of reality. And it can be as simple as telling a prospect that they’re making a foolish decision because they just called you up and told you they’re going with the competition, when you’re telling them that they’re making a foolish decision when you’re making them question their own decision making, that is a form of gaslighting. And gaslighting is even more detrimental in terms of a person’s mental health, then straight up negative bias, we owe it to ourselves. And we owe it to our profession to not use these ridiculous, outdated, antiquated and frankly unprofessional approaches to talking to our prospects and to our customers. So I challenge each of us and I asked all of us to do better than we ever done before. And if you see these sorts of things happening, call them out. Tell sellers that you see using these negative tactics, how if it’s somebody that I work with, call me up and told me that a person was using a negative selling tactic, and I’m going to call them out, it’s not worth it. At the end of the day, our value as human beings, our value as sales professionals, our value as enablement, professionals, far outweigh any value, that you have a remote chance of gaining as a result of using these tactics. Now, let me just share this and then I’m going to wrap it up because I’m already going a little longer than I want to, and probably a little longer than you want. And listen to me. enablement has a critical role to play here. Negative selling is often happening as a result of poorly trained
income competent, not seeing competent and lacking confidence sellers. So how do we help them we provide them the right training that they need to have in the right coaching to ensure that they go into every sales conversation, prepared and confident we owe it to them to give them the right content that they can access at the right time to find what they need to talk about with that prospect. And we need to give them the confidence to say, if you don’t have the answers, not to use that as an opportunity to just sort of beat up and swing wildly in one direction or another. But to use that and intelligent come back to the prospect with Hey, I’m gonna come back to you if you feel the need to beat up on your competition at all. And only if you feel this need, use solutions like customer testimonials. Hopefully your customers are not sitting there saying hey, customer at company x sucked. But what those customer testimonials are doing for you are spotlighting how good you are as a business in solving certain problems. how good you are as a business to partner with how good you are as a business to drive adoption of the solutions to help them find value. Use those take case studies as a way to raise your stuff up, as opposed to falling back to beating up your competition. Lastly, in terms of negative selling, teach your sales people the reality as best as you can understand it, about your competition, not from the perspective again of beating them up for being lousy at x or y or z. But talk to them about where you as a business are better than the competition. And make sure that your sellers are also aware and understand deeply in what scenarios your competition is better than you. The reality is, most products are really good at solving certain sets of use cases. We’re certain types of buyers in certain industries. And I’m overly simplifying I know. So each of us work for companies that deliver products that really nail it in certain situations. And that don’t nail it as well as some of our competition. In other situations, we need to make sure that our sales teams understand where we can win, where we should win, because we’re able to actually help the customer. If we sell a deal and the customer fails to deliver value, find value in our solution. They’re going to churn in a year, they’re going to be dissatisfied. And guess what they’re going to leave customer testimonials or feedback loops on site feedback on sites like jeetu, telling the world that we are not a great solution when the reality is we simply were not a great solution for them with their problem in the industry with a certain set of personas we needed to work with. Anyway, rant over for today, I’m going to share a link to the article I wrote. So you can read it in a little bit more detail if you want. But my ask of you and each and every one of you today is to take a moment, think about how your company does business. Think about how you can mitigate and reduce the need for your sales teams to go negative. And think about also from a broader perspective how you can work with HR, with sales leadership, and with your sales teams to make sure that you’re not promoting activities and behaviors that impact negatively the mental health of your sellers, the mental health of the people Working with your sellers, and health, mental and physical of all the people in your company and those you work with. We deserve better, we ought to do better. And I encourage us all to try to do just a little bit better each and every day. Anyway
Living Enablement as a practitioner and as a leader. I’ve seen the confusion and frustration that many practitioners live. From working in other areas of the business, I’ve also seen the genuine need for the capabilities that enablement provides.