Time to Give Thanks for so Much—Including our Business!

Via Sharon Parker
on Nov 16, 2012
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My favorite holiday is approaching. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, family, friends, love, celebration, tradition—and no presents!

I love that we have an official day each year to count our blessings, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if gratitude was a daily attitude?

As a salesperson and trainer, for example, I am grateful to be doing work I love and sharing my knowledge and experience with my peers. I’m grateful that I help my clients solve problems and achieve their goals—except for Thursdays. You see, my “sacred space” for prospecting is Thursday morning. That’s when I have time carved into my calendar exclusively for the purpose of reaching out to potential new clients. I love what I do, but on Thursday morning… I grumble and stall and procrastinate and reach for the snooze alarm one more time and…

Well, you get the idea.

Prospecting is painful and I know why it’s so hard for me to do. When I’m reaching out to people who do not know me, I’m not Sharon who does her best for her clients. I’m automatically in the sales “penalty” box. The stereotype of salespeople that permeates our collective thinking includes words like “pushy,” “self-interested,” “manipulative,” “dishonest,” “untrustworthy.”

Those stereotypes makes the people I’m calling quick to reject me. I get 15 seconds or less to differentiate myself from the dozens of other calls they get each week from people hoping to sell them something. It doesn’t matter whether my services are exactly what could help them achieve their goal if I can’t get out of that penalty box fast enough to have a conversation with them, person to person, that gets their attention.

To do that, I have to open with a question that is likely to be in line with their concerns. Since I call on sales executives, my openings include questions about growing market share, decreasing discounting, increasing forecast accuracy, and other areas of concern to any manager charged with increasing sales. Unless they have some reason to think I understand their concerns and may be able to help, why would they take time from their crazy-busy day to talk with a stranger?

No matter what product or service you sell, can you put yourself in the head of your ideal customer and understand what motivates them?

How are they measured? What constitutes success?

If you can’t, you are not likely to get their interest in the few seconds they give you. It’s not just about making the effort, although that is step number one. One of the core concepts of CustomerCentric Selling teaches “it’s not where you show up but what you say when you get there.” This determines whether you’ll be successful in finding alignment with your prospect.

In the meantime, one of the things I’m grateful for this year is that Thanksgiving Day falls on a Thursday, giving me an excellent excuse for putting off my prospecting until next week.

May your holiday be filled with happiness.


Ed: Brianna B.


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About Sharon Parker

Sharon Parker successfully sold high-tech products and services for 25 years. Her book, Selling with Soul: Achieving Career Success without Sacrificing Personal and Spiritual Growth, was re-released as a second edition with new content and updated material in January 2012. The book counters the negative notions of selling and explains how selling is an honorable profession that creates value for us all when it is done with empathy for the customer and a firm commitment to integrity. She donates all the profits from the book to educational scholarships for women and minority students. / As Founder and Principle Consultant of Sparker, The Coaching Company, she provides training for sales people and sales managers using the CustomerCentric Selling® methodology. As a licensed facilitator with Corporate Coach U, she teaches coaching clinics to front-line managers and team leaders and offers individual and small group coaching to help people achieve their personal best. For more information, contact [email protected] or visit the website: sparkercoaching.com.


2 Responses to “Time to Give Thanks for so Much—Including our Business!”

  1. Vision_Quest2 says:

    There are some things yoga promoters don't wish to understand. Like anything else, among the basics is that the market has to be segmented.

    The prospect must be willing and ABLE to (responsibly) buy what yoga promoters are selling.

    Of course, yoga instruction isn't for free. On the other hand, yoga must be freed. The Internet has been doing a good job of liberating it for the rest of us …

  2. Megan says:

    It amazes me how much time I spend talking to students about how important it is to understand your customer!

    So many business owners (and entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs etc) are absolutely snow-blind to the fact that what they are offering isn't for everyone – but could be perfect for someone.

    Good luck with today's prospecting!