Are You a Sales Chameleon? Avoid Objections

Chameleon BusinesspersonIt was like selling to the United Nations when I sold manufacturing technologies. The stakeholders and decision makers ranged from machinery operators to the C-Suite. Every level and department dressed and spoke differently.

You sell to people from different departments at different levels within the same organization. Each has unique styles and lingo. Do you meet each stakeholder and decision maker on their level and in their communication style?

Wearing a suit and tie on the shop floor alienated me from the equipment operators, supervisors and plant managers. I faced difficult objections and friction. A machine operator could kill a sale as quickly as the CFO could. If they disliked the ergonomics, how the controls laid out, how parts loaded and unloaded, I was dead. If the plant manager disliked the color or layout, I was cooked.

Then I learned the truth from a good customer and friend who was the CEO of a large manufacturing company. I asked him about the friction I consistently felt. He said, “When you walk into the plant in a suit and tie, you aren’t one of them. You have a strike against you before you shake their hands. They assume your kowtowing to the executives and ignoring them.” So I experimented.

The next time I toured a plant, I wore jeans, Rockports and a sweatshirt. The president didn’t bat an eyelash at my attire. The welcome I received astounded me. The plant manager treated me like one of the boys and introduced me to the operators. They gave me their wish list like I was Santa Claus. They worked with me with trust and confidence. Objections became comfortable discussions.

As a salesperson, you’re playing to a diverse audience with different styles, lingo and expectations. The players who can hurt your sale are not always senior level executives. No matter how much the CMO wants your marketing automation, the CSO wants your sales enhancements or the CFO wants your accounting system, without buy in from the end users you’re dead in the water.

There’s an old saying, “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”

Si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sicut ibi

“If you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there” -St Ambrose.

You can be a chameleon without being a phony and remain true to yourself. Think about the different environments and contexts of your life. Don’t you vary your dress and language from work to romance, friends, sports, family and children?

Versatile styles helps you build relationships faster and broadens communication at every level.