The “Fear Factor” in sales


His fear may be your freedom
His fear may mean your freedom

Fear. . .arguably the strongest sentiment in both animals and humans.  In fact, a friend who leans toward spiritual matters say that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.

This philosophy is definitely worth pondering over a glass or two of wine after a long day.  However, in the harsh blue light of our iPads, as we prepare a presentation to a sales prospect, it also merits immediate consideration.

After all, most of us who work for a living live in some fear:  of losing the job, of upsetting the boss, not making the sale, etc.  Yet how many of us think about the fears of the other person sitting across the desk or conference table,  the one we’re trying so hard to impress?

Let’s put ourselves in his or her shoes.  In fact, this person may have a lot more fear than you and thus need you more than you need them.

This quandary arose recently in our client work, where we evaluated the key challenges for supplier/marketers (us!) vs. receiver/retailer/customer (them!) when introducing a new product.   It provided a simple gap analysis of the complex retailer/supplier relationship today.

We saw how often a weakness on one side correlates directly to the other, like balancing scales. Importantly, the exercise helped provide perspective in relationships we often view as one-sided: where the other side has all the benefits and we have all the Benzedrine.

To help us keep calm and carry on during sales presentations to retailers, we refer to our “Fear Factor” table:

SUPPLIER

RETAILER

Focused on being unique vs. meeting need Shuns creativity and plays it “corporate”
Takes short cuts in key market research Has access to data but no time to review
Prefers sales now vs. slow-building the biz Lives by P&L vs. what market wants now
Slow to “seize” category and be a leader Oversees too many categories to know
Has too much freedom; gets into trouble Runs from trouble…and opportunities

While this table is not new in insight, it does serve as a quick reminder that sometimes someone else’s fear may spell your freedom:  freedom to take the reins and run with them.

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