We all need feedback in order to learn. Touch a hot stove – immediate feedback! Say the wrong thing and the room goes quiet. Try something new and it doesn’t work … until we modify our approach. Without feedback we would continue harmful and ineffective activities.
So why don’t we like feedback? In fact, many people stick their fingers in their ears, figuratively or literally, rejecting help to make better choices.
Salespeople get feedback every day from multiple sources – their customers, colleagues, suppliers, managers, accounting department, and family members. What they do with that feedback has more to do with their mindset and self-esteem than the feedback itself.
In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck describes how people tend to have a growth or a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset are pretty sure that they either have the ability, because they are naturally talented, to do the job or they don’t; and that additional effort is a waste of time and energy. When they fail, they rationalize it as someone else’s fault or bad circumstances. They don’t tend to accept personal responsibility, learn from it, or make a serious effort to succeed in spite of the challenge.
Those with a growth mindset want feedback. They want to learn, to improve and develop new skills, so they can alter their behaviour to produce better outcomes. They accept feedback as information. Information is neither good nor bad but how they interpret it makes it so.
When a prospect says no to your proposal, it’s feedback that you can learn from. There are many possible interpretations:
- They are confused and have trouble making a decision, so it’s easier to say no than yes
- They don’t have enough information
- They disagree with your analysis
- Their boss doesn’t like it
- They don’t think the benefits justify the cost
- They like someone else’s proposal better
- They cannot afford it
- They don’t like or trust you
Most salespeople give up when they get a no. They don’t go further; but unless you dig a little deeper, you won’t get the feedback you need in order to adjust your behaviour or address their concerns.
Ask for feedback. You might say, “Obviously you have a reason for choosing not to move forward, do you mind if I ask what it is?” They will respond with a reason, which may or may not be frank and honest; but it’s a start.
By digging deeper, you’ll learn information that may turn this sale around. It will certainly help you to do better next time.