Perceptual Positions - From whose perspective are your Sellers controlling their sale?

06 March 2019 by Charles Howden

When your Sellers are giving you feedback on how their sales call has gone, how do they explain the engagement to you? How do they view their interaction with their buyer (and why does this matter?). There are three perspectives from which to view what is happening during a two-way sales call, we call these Perceptual Positions, and understanding what is happening from each of these three perspectives can be critical to understanding what is going on in the sales engagement.

When Sellers are inexperienced, they spend most of their time during a Buyer-facing call in the 1st Position. Unsure of their proposition, their Buyers needs, their own Selling Process, where in their bag to find an order form, a pen a calculator… (Believe me, on coaching calls I’ve seen it, you probably have too?!) The Rookie Seller has too many balls in the air to keep juggling to spare an ounce of time to focus on their Prospect, the Buyer. Which of course is where the action is!

Competent, experienced Sellers, spend more time focusing on the 2nd Position. Because they have learned and understand their Value Proposition, because they know how to seamlessly take an order without missing a beat, they have plenty of attention-bandwidth to focus on what’s going on for their Buyer. More savvy Sellers can construct verbal sales messaging to match their Buyer’s own natural communication style, they pay attention to the non-verbal cues that signal where their Buyer is in their own decision making process. These Sellers build deep relationships and demonstrate empathy (and as a result Buyers, generally, love them).

So what of the 3rd Position? This is the position you wish your Seller had spent more time in when they come back and report “a great meeting” with little to show for it, a continuation rather than an advancement. Viewing the sales call from this “Fly on the wall” position, the Seller is aware of what stage the sales call is in, and what they need to do to help the Buyer to move to the next stage. The most competent Sellers flip between 3rd Position and 2nd Position to keep the show on the road, to manage the time frame, and to make sure that they end up at the outcome they had set for themselves when prepping for the call.

The Sales Coaching tip is for Line-Management roles to use Perceptual Position language in their coaching sessions to help Sellers better understand there are three dynamics operating in a Sales Call. The Seller, the Buyer, and the Process. And that they, the Seller, should aim to have control over all three!

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