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You behave what you believe

Your market is different. I know this to be true because you told me. There are tens of thousands of markets in the country where lumber and building materials are sold, and every single one of them is different. It’s been said by Nate in Poughkeepsie, Leon in Louisville, Sheila in Sheboygan, and Fydor in Chicago. In fact, they are all correct because it is what they believe.

If you believe your market is the toughest market, your behavior shifts immediately. You conclude that A. your market is the most competitive; B. it’s all about price; C. buyers aren’t loyal; D. you can’t get contractors to schedule appointments; and E. you talk yourself into outcomes before you’ve even picked up the phone to talk to a buyer.

The result for you, me, and all salespeople is that we behave what we believe. A salesperson who believes their market is highly competitive operates from a position of scarcity. The belief is that opportunities are limited, and the salesperson cannot afford to lose any sale. Successful people operate from a position of abundance, something they create between their own two ears. Abundance isn’t a state of the market; it’s a state of mind and a confidence builder. Alternatively, perceptions of scarcity inevitably lead to vulnerability.

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If you believe you live in a market of scarcity, you subconsciously send out energy, gestures, and even words (e.g., “Let me know how my price looks after you’ve checked it out.”) that invite the buyer to negotiate. You’re not really delivering a price; you’re delivering a starting point. You expect (and perhaps feel validated as in “I knew it!”) when the price is immediately challenged.

If you believe buyers aren’t loyal and quickly jump ship, you become vulnerable to irrational service demands. Any mild concern can be perceived as a catastrophic threat to the long-term relationship. Overreactions occur when an angry voice supersedes the objective evaluation of urgency. Task priorities are based on emotional outbursts rather than objective service triage.

After years of study and tracking, my conclusion is that buyers are extremely loyal in our industry. I coined the term, “transactional dependability,” in my book “Sales Economics” while measuring the degree of loyalty that exists and various levels of the industry supply chain. My studies have revealed that transactional dependability (or loyalty) hovers near the 85% range. That is, you retain 85% of your customers and volume from one year to the next.

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I devoted a full chapter of “Sales Economics”, to the power of appointments both as a leading and lagging indicator. Yet, one salesperson after another tells me contractors won’t make appointments with them. They assure me, “You really can’t get contractors to pin down times to meet.” To this lament, I ponder aloud how weird it is that a buyer never makes a dental appointment … or schedules time to meet a customer … or plans to meet the municipal job inspector on site to ensure a project meets deadlines. The only conclusion a salesperson could (or at least should) glean from this Socratic inquiry is that the buyer does make appointments, but they don’t make them because the salesperson hasn’t established enough value in the purpose.

Each interaction with a prospect or customer is a play in your playbook of success. It’s a miniature part of your journey that, when properly executed, can add up to big results—or ongoing frustration. Your beliefs will drive your behaviors; change your beliefs and your performance will change with them.

To put the argument to rest, I actually can tell you which is the toughest market in the country. I’ve delivered presentations and consultations in 42 states and six Canadian provinces. I’ve worked in over 200 cities. The toughest market in the country? It’s the one I’m in that day … because that’s what they tell me.

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