“We must meet our prospect on a level plane. We must be equals.” – an interview with Bob Terson by John Smibert.
When a dog smells fear they attack.
When you stand up to, and stare down a dog it treats you with respect. According to Robert Terson it is similar when a salesperson faces a prospective customer.
Bob’s sales career spanned a successful 40 years. On his retirement he decided to give back – to share what he had learnt in those 40 years – so he wrote a best selling book. Bob titled his book “Selling Fearlessly” because the number one lesson he learnt in his career was that we need to be fearless in the face of the customer.
In this discussion I asked Bob what was his reason behind writing the book. He started by saying “All too many salespeople in this world put themselves instinctively in a subservient position to the prospect, which just doesn’t work”. He then talked about how they should position themselves.
Bob is a great storyteller and he doesn’t disappoint here.
View the video or read the transcript below – I hope you like it. This is the first of a series of discussions I will conduct with Bob.
Robert Terson is a published author, sales authority, sales blogger and Keynote Speaker. His driving purpose is to help us succeed.
John: Welcome back all my followers, it’s great to have you with me again – I’ve got a treat for you today! Here we have Bob Terson, and Bob is an old friend of mine from Chicago, happens to be in Sydney on a holiday, so I’ve pulled him in front of the camera, sitting in his motel room here, we’ve had a great two days together – welcome, Bob!
Bob: Thank you, John! I have had a marvellous time in Sydney, and that cricket game you took me to, that was the pièce de résistance!
John: I really don’t know that Bob knew how to spell the word “cricket” before yesterday. I took him to an Australia versus England one-day match, and I think you learnt a few things!
Bob: Oh, I did, I did – I know what an ‘over’ is now! [laughter]
John: And we get some sticky wickets and whatever. So, welcome along, Bob, I’m really, really delighted to have you here, I avidly read your blog.
Bob is, in my mind, a real thinker and thought leader around sales and leadership – how we as people, just ordinary, everyday people – how we can improve ourselves and so on, and I love your content. Above all, he has written a book called Selling Fearlessly – great book!
Bob: Thank you, thank you.
John: Let’s start by talking about that book a little bit, the reason behind you writing it and why you’ve called it Selling Fearlessly.
Bob: Well, when I retired, I wanted to write a book, I wanted to contribute, I wanted to give back, I felt I had something to say, with 40 years of experience. I wanted to not tell people how to sell; I wanted to show them how, by telling stories.
Bob: And I think I accomplished that. I titled it Selling Fearlessly, because it’s been my experience, John, that all too many salespeople in this world put themselves instinctively in a subservient position to the prospect, which just doesn’t work.
John: And why?
Bob: Because to be successful in selling, you must meet that prospect on a level, equal plane. You must be equals.
John: Peer to peer.
Bob: You can’t be subservient, you cannot be dominant. The pendulum must be in the middle, you have to be that person’s equal. You must be his or her equal to have that person’s respect, to have that person understand that you’re there to bring them value, to benefit them, to improve their lives, and you can only do that from a point of equality. So I wanted to tell people to sell fearlessly, see yourself in an equal light to the people you do business with. You’re entitled to that.
John: They way you’ve just said it reminds me of what a friend of mine, Bernadette McClelland, and I know you know Bernadette…
Bob: Friend of mine too!
John: Bernadette talks about how salespeople should “stand in their power”, and that really is part of positioning peer to peer, being confident in what you’re doing, and knowing that you bring value to the other person, and therefore behaving as a peer, at a peer level to that person.
Bob: Yes. Otherwise you’re begging, you’re pleading, and that’s a turn-off. Nobody wants to sit down with someone who is going to just be a lapdog.
John: They wouldn’t even conceive you could bring value to me, if you’re just a lapdog there. Maybe basic servitude type stuff.
Bob: Yes, it doesn’t work. And people, they’re so afraid of that prospect, that customer, potential customer, that there is this fear, and it’s like… A dog smells the fear and attacks, because it’s upsetting to the animal; the same thing with a prospect, very same thing.
John: I think it’s a great message, and I’d like to come back and talk more about that. This is something we haven’t talked a lot about with my audience, so I think they’ll get a lot of value out of these discussions. I’d like to have you come back a number of times.
Bob: I’ll be thrilled to! I would love to.
John: Okay, so we’ll get Bob back pretty soon and go through a number of other discussions on great sales subjects that I’m sure is going to bring a lot of value to the audience out there – thank you very much, thank you, Bob!
Bob: Thank you, John!
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