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Quotas, Compromises, and Other Acts of Desperation

Jacob Brain


We’ve all experienced in, one way or another, some plea of desperation in the business world that’s left us twisting in our chair in the awkwardness. Desperation comes in many shapes and forms, but nothing is quite as shameful as the acts done in the sales process that can be avoided.

No One Cares About Your Quota

“I’d really like to close this deal, this week.” No kidding. Because it’s March 28th.

I think there are very few things that we can do as sales professionals that hurt us more than letting our own internal needs trump those of the buyer. The quota is the one of the realities we face as sales professionals that tends to leak ahead of our buyer’s interests during the conversation. And I think it only hurts us.

The reason is that no one really cares about you in the sales process. The way that “you” or your interests enter the frame of a sales conversation is typically around terms and features. Your need to sell – or deadline to sell – is awkward, and feels, in a way…dirty.

So you might be saying, “OK sales genius, then how do I close my quota if I can’t talk about it?” Valid question, but that is really the wrong end of the issue. If the quota is the only thing helping you close deals, you need more introspection into your sales process, or at least into how you close.

Yet, I would try to avoid the next biggest mistake in our ladder of desperation – a compromise.

Never Compromise Your Position

I’m going to be stepping into a field full of land mines with this conversation.

Everyone in the sales profession has an opinion on when and how to break form to make the deal work. I’m not saying that this is a bad tactic overall, but the tendency is to compromise one-way: on your side of the table.

[tweetthis]One-sided compromise shows weakness and devalues your offering.[/tweetthis]

Here is my rationale for this stance. In my experience working with hundreds of businesses and personalities, compromise is closely linked to the confidence someone has in the product, company, or solution.

This can take all forms. Compromise can be a compromise of personal integrity. Compromise can come because we just don’t really care about company margins. It can come because we don’t even believe the product is that good. And many sales methods, like Sandler Sales Method, talk about not letting compromise be part of your process.

So the question now is: how do you avoid it?

First we need to turn inside and establish two truths – the first being your belief in your product, yourself, and your company. Without a really strong belief, you’ll compromise every time. This is 80% of the battle.

Second, we’d turn to the reality that your product or service will not solve everyone’s problem. You have to be willing to walk away from the deal if your price and terms can’t be met.

If you’ve got these set, you have a really strong disposition in the sales process and you’ll avoid most of the pitfalls that business development professionals fall victim to, despite their best efforts.

Sales Is About Serving

Like many things in life, sometimes our understanding of things comes from poor sources. Sales is portrayed in movies and TV as one of the most horrid, evil professions on the market – tricking people into buying things they don’t need, taking advantage of them.

If this is your perspective, please leave the profession.

Sales is serving. It’s about finding fit between what you offer and the client’s problems or needs. Your job is to help discover the fit between the service and the client’s need. You’re on the same side of the table with the client. If the product doesn’t fit, you should be able to say that – and then help them on their journey and carry on with your next opportunity.

Selling, then, means making sure that the value position is clear, and helping to uncover value and presenting value. Yes, you will contrast your product with the competition, but only in light of the need to find a match, not to disparage.

Be Encouraged

Although what we just uncovered might have felt like pulling a bandaid off a wound, you are in the right space. Reading this article means you know there is a better way, but might not know where to turn. Keep digging. Find better training, find better mentors, find the right resources to become better.

But please never again mention your deadline to close a deal, the discounts you are willing to make, or anything else that makes the customer feel like a notch in your belt instead of a real partner.

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