Late last year I had an awesome telephone conversation with a colleague. During our call, I admitted that I have never been a great hunter in my business. What he said in response really caused me to think,
“That doesn’t surprise me; you’re too nice.”
A few days later I repeated this conversation to another friend of mine and we discussed people in a similar field who we are good hunters. Although each person is friendly no one would use the word ‘nice’ to describe them.
For several weeks I asked myself if nice guys can actually transform into hunters. What is the difference between a nice sales person and an effective hunter? A subsequent conversation with Mike Weinberg revealed the key difference.
Hunters aren’t afraid of conflict whereas nice people usually try to avoid conflict.
In terms of hunting for new business, conflict arises when the sales person pushes for an appointment or a meeting even after they have been told no several times. Conflict occurs when a prospect is ready to disconnect the call but the hunter keeps them on the line by asking another question. Conflict happens when a nice sales person senses they are intruding on the other person’s time and rather than ignoring it, they succumb to it.
That got me thinking
What is it about conflict and rejection that bothers nice sales people so much?
The first is that it goes against their natural and instinctive desire to be liked and accepted by others. It doesn’t matter if the other person is a complete stranger nice people want—and need—to be liked. Here’s a personal example.
Shortly after I first began issuing my weekly newsletter in 2002, I received an email from someone objecting to a comment I made. I can admit it now that I almost freaked out. I was stressed out the entire day thinking that I had offended one of my readers. I failed to realize that controversy is perfectly acceptable and that it is impossible for me to please everyone. It sounds silly but that type of situation happens regularly for nice sales people.
I can just hear hunters as they read this. “C’mon! Suck it up!” “Grow a pair will ya!” “It’s just prospecting, it’s not personal.” “Get a backbone why don’tchya!” That’s easy for Driver-type personalities. They don’t take ANYTHING personal and the only thing they care about is getting results and not failing.
So, let’s go back to my original question
Can nice sales people transform themselves into good hunters?
I believe the answer is yes. My good friend Mike suggests that a friendly, process-driven person CAN learn how to hunt and reject the rejection. However, it takes a significant amount of work, effort and energy, not mention daily practice. It requires regular coaching, dedicated focus and the ability to work while feeling uncomfortable. This is not an easy task for a relationship oriented sales person. However, it is achievable.
And, if a nice sales person is willing to make the necessary commitment to changing, they may just transform their business.