As a culture, we sellers tend to share one big vulnerability: we’re too sentimental.
No, I don’t mean that we get weepy and nostalgic (well… maybe a little). I mean that we base far too much of our strategies, forecasting and account management on sentiment and not enough on evidence. Let me explain.
Being human and social, many of us tend to overvalue the feeling in the room, while also overestimating our own ability to know what’s actually happening. Sure, when things completely suck – customers are bored, disengaged or hostile-adjacent – that tells a certain truth.
Where our sentimentality ends up hurting us most, though, is when the calls seem to go well. Great energy… they really liked us! Or they seemed really receptive. Or they said they’d be including us in their process this fall. All of these statements sound and feel really good. They just don’t mean anything.
Many years ago, I came back to the office after a multi-day sales trip to my territory. When my manager asked me about it, I immediately started sharing sentiment… describing one great meeting after another. He calmly put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said Weaver… great meetings are the comfort of the weak seller.
Ouch. But yeah.
Since that day I’ve focused on evidence. What did I actually ask them for and what did they specifically commit to doing? Did they agree to a recommendation? Another meeting? Did the customer talk about how they would fund your idea? Did they go into the decision-making process? Did you get direct feedback on the price of what you’re selling? Was a start date discussed?
Evidence is everywhere. But we only get what we look for. And when we examine it – thoughtfully, critically, unsentimentally – it tells us where we really stand…what needs to be done… how to move forward intentionally. We become better forecasters, better time managers, better teammates, better stewards of company resources – better sellers.
I don’t think my long-ago boss was really calling me a weak seller. I believe he was telling me to show him the evidence that I wasn’t.