The Importance of Equality
To be successful a salesperson must have the prospect’s respect and be seen as his equal. You’re not a toy for his amusement; he’s not a cat and you’re not a ball of yarn. Most people are decent, they’ll treat you with a modicum of respect; however, occasionally you’ll run into an egotistical wiseacre who will amuse himself by attempting to put you in your “proper subservient place”—kindergarten, in a state of shock and awe of the towering adult who holds complete sway over you.
I once sat down with an automobile dealer who the prior week had taken over a dealership in Ohio. This man’s ego was the size of Mount Rushmore; he was brusque and dogmatic—a 20th century Captain Bly. He wanted me to know he was God and I was a lowly fly he could swat at will. Before I had a chance to open my mouth, he glared at me and said, “I’ll listen to your spiel for as long as it amuses me, but if I deem what you say dumb and ignorant, I’ll personally throw you out of here on your ass.” I tell the full story in my upcoming book Selling Fearlessly; I think you’ll get a kick out of how I handled this jerk.
When you run into someone that nasty, you’ve run into a force to be reckoned with, to be sure, but you must not be intimidated. If you are, you’re deader than a railroad tie before you begin. A prospect will sense your fear like a dog, and once he does, lookout, he’ll chew on you like you’re his favorite bone. You’ll be his sport for the day. If you don’t have a prospect’s respect, the odds of closing the sale are practically nil.
If you want a prospect to respect you, you can’t be afraid of him. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like you do. He sits down on the toilet the same way you do. He’s just another human being, not a deity; he has no power over you except to say no, and if he exercises that power, so what? In the overall scheme of things, his “no” is meaningless: you knew going in that you weren’t going to sell them all. The losses don’t matter, only the victories count. You have to get the noes out of the way to get to the yeses.
You’re there to serve the prospect, better his life; your best chance to accomplish that goal is to be his equal, not his doormat.
The premises may belong to him, but not your dignity; your dignity belongs to you and it’s not for sale.