Sales Impact: Put Away Your Happy Ears

We’ve all been there. Talking about the deal that’s going to close, the great meeting we had or the staff presentation we delivered — and just knowing something is going to come of it.

And then we wait. And wait.

We make excuses as to why it hasn’t closed. It has to close … they said they would call … they said they would buy as soon as their inventory was depleted … or as soon as they had the budget.

And on. And on.

I call this happy ears. All too often we hear what we want to hear. Selective listening. I’ve been there only to be whacked down when the deal never closes. The question is, how do you respond to this lack of closure? Do you just blow it off and move on to greener pastures? All too often we move on, or retreat, rather than reigniting or reflecting on what truly went wrong.

How do you handle this predicament? Do you reignite or retreat?

Personally, if I want something badly enough, I reignite. If not, it clearly wasn’t that important to begin with. Actions (not words) define us. And excuses just won’t do.


Hitting your sales goals must be a priority — so REIGNITE. Seek to understand. Many times it has nothing to do with you, your offering or your actual presentation. It has more to do with timing.

Sometimes we think we’ve addressed a specific need, but really haven’t. Clients listen, enjoy their free lunch, then wonder why they gave us the time in the first place.

When your manager asks where you are in the sales cycle with that amazing call or presentation, how will you respond? With excuses, or with a plan of attack based on facts?

The main problem with any presentation is FAILING TO FOLLOW UP with simple questions. Numerous data points validate this. Heck, if you just follow-up with some level of effort more than 50% of the time you beat the average.

Think before you act. What’s amazing to me is the lack of follow-up — or timeliness of follow-up with qualified prospects. What are your competitors doing? Or not doing?

I find it challenging (and fun) to push the envelope by asking questions. Although fun for some, pushing the envelope stokes fear in others. If fear is your reason for not asking questions, get over it. It’s not personal, it’s a process.

To be fully effective as a sales professional, you must know whether the lack of response (or the response you receive) is a blow-off, apathy or legitimate reality.

You must be prepared to ask tough questions and listen to the answers. What do you have to lose? Worst case, you receive a no. Best case, you receive the order. And there’s plenty of room in between for you to tip the balance.

You have to know, “What did I miss?” I was sooo confident we were on the same page/path/journey and then nothing? Can you help me out? WHAT DID I MISS? You will be amazed at what you hear. Based on the response you receive, you will know which way to respond from a sales process standpoint.

If it is apathy or an illegitimate blow-off (“We’re going to stick with what we have, everyone is busy right now”), you clearly have not hit the pain point or hot button of the decision maker. It’s time to refresh and re-present in a more targeted and compelling way. Ask yourself, “WHY should they make the change or give me the time?”

You may be good, but that can’t be the primary reason. When was the last time you asked the “What would it take?” question when presented with apathy?

Uncomfortable? Yes.

Effective? Certainly.

Not always of course, but the more questions you ask, the better your odds of success. In addition, you’ll add to your list of differentiation to use with other prospects and clients.

If it is just reality (blow-off or not), you will unearth this and have the opportunity to provide suggestions or options for moving forward.

The big question is, DO YOU ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS?

Doing so is the surest way to control your happy ears and close more sales.

The choice is yours.


MENTOR October 2016;7(10):10–11.

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