Although I am very aware of what is happening in terms of the ego from my own perspective and the difficulties I already have in dealing with it myself, it becomes even more challenging when you have to deal with someone else’s ego.
A couple of days ago I had a meeting with my colleagues. The main point on the agenda was the feedback from the accountant on the business financial situation. We discussed the figures and saw a positive trend. We even talked about distribution of extra’s in November. This was clearly a polarity since within seconds, when the topic changed to the actual figures of customer conversions there was apparently an issue. We had very little conversions the last month and in order to keep the business running the way the accountant pointed out we needed to make more money.
The cause of the lack of conversions was quickly found. Me. Since I am the sales manager and responsible for the first contact with potential customers I had to be the cause why only five conversions were generated out of 88 registrations. I was surprised by this conclusion but as a system started to doubt myself immediately. Have I done everything I could to convert as much as possible? Did I spoil occasions to convert. Was I paying too little attention to potential customers? Have I been not convincing enough to talk new customers into our services?
All these questions where amplified by opinions about the way I do my job. My colleagues have no idea how I perform since we do not see each other very often since I work from home most of the time and tend to limit the calls to customers the few occasions I am in the office to dedicate my time to other issues we have to address as a team. We agreed that we should see each other more often and to analyse more in depth the reasons for the low conversion rate in April.
Only later I asked myself why we did not speak about the previous months. March had been the best month ever in terms of turnover. Apparently there is a reason why everything focuses on April. A day later I received a mail from the business owner proposing to take back partially the sales work alternating customer contacts with me. He proposed to see who was able to make the most conversions and if I managed to do 5 in May he will take back all the doubt he expressed about my performance as a sales manager.
Since I felt fucked by this and was not going to agree with the terms I had my back chat shooting all kind of possible discussions in high speed in my mind and my ego trying to suggest I should become angry and tell the fucker to shut up with his stupid allegations of me not doing my job properly. While writing this I still feel some adrenaline going through my veins… a typical reaction of me against unfair situations and feeling unable to do something about it.
Later on the day we discussed the whole matter again and reached an agreement that is kind of acceptable for all. The big challenge however, besides the real fact we need to address the low conversion rate, is to tackle the starting point that consequently manifested into this time consuming discussion instead of being just a fact we had to address professionally. My focus is now to bring the whole back to just the fact and to separately deal with the ego and back chat part since this is a perfect situation to analyse in order to understand myself better.
I also see I can be a living example in this and will discuss the situation with both colleagues to see if I can create some awareness on what really are the trigger points and the consequences of allegations, accusations and idea’s based on nothing else than thoughts that are expressed to another in words. Another interesting point is the polarity I saw clearly when talking about the business’ future. There is a growth (hurray) BUT in order to keep this growth we need to keep working hard (bummer) and not make any wrong decision (That is what the accountant said). This apparently caused some fear and consequently a quick analysis of the actual situation (and not the whole picture) causing some panic, a search for a cause to justify why the results are not what they are expected to be.
Today I experienced how far people can go in order to be seen as someone more special than the others. It all happened when I was on the phone with a potential customer who had asked to be contacted by a sales person in order to get an offer. I am not sure if all these points apply for the specialness label but I will mention every point that caught my attention.
After a short introduction the man made sure to tell me that about a month ago he already spoke to someone of the company I work for and that they pre-emptively agreed on a year of free service on one of the products. Ok, I said, avoiding to enter a discussion on this since I was already getting an idea of the kind of person I was talking to. During our conversation I spoke about our services and mentioned the standard prices while the person I was talking to did his upmost best to find all kind of argumentations to have me lowering the prices. This almost lead me entering a discussion about prices I managed to stop in time when I saw it would have been meaningless to do.
The man was almost begging me to see him as a special person using arguments that should have triggered a feeling of pity for the man that is running a business that is only doing business in summer and stating that businesses in big cities pay the same price but are making money al year long. Wow! I should have felt sorry for the fact he could only make money in a certain period of the year and ignore his apparent jealousy for others making more money. I told him we could consider special prices for businesses like his’ but that we also had to tailor the services accordingly.
FInally we had to end the conversation with no final offer made since the customer had to test if one of the services was meeting his needs. This allowed me to formulate a final offer in which I will ask him to stop using a competitor’s solution he uses right now and start using ours if he want to benefit from my special offer. This deal allows him to get the price he is asking for and allows me to make sure his business is generating enough revenue so the amount of transactions he pays a percentage for will have an acceptable volume. This is good for his business and for ours.
It is actually fun to work with the tools that are given to me to do sales and at the same time to use as much common sense as possible in applying and using these tools. No need to make exceptions based on specialness related points. It is difficult to remember your motivations and to remain constant in the way you approach comparable situations or even the same person. My business approach is still under development and I will keep you posted on how it is evolving.