Mark Shonka

Sales Tip: An Uncomfortable Comfort Zone

As people, we all have unique comfort zones. However, as sales and relationship management professionals, we tend to have some shared areas of comfort. One of the most common - and most dangerous - comfort zones in our profession is 'calling only on the people we are supposed to call on'.

For example:

  • If we sell software, we are supposed to call on IT.
  • If we sell logistics solutions, we are supposed to call on Supply Chain.
  • If we sell training, we are supposed to call on HR/Training.
  • Perhaps more dangerous than anything - increasingly, if we sell anything, we are supposed to call on Procurement.

If you are a vendor competing on price in a transactional environment, this comfort zone may not be bad at all. After all - you want to quickly understand your customer's needs, minimize the cost of sales, and keep your price low.

But for the rest of us, 'calling only on the people we are supposed to call on' is dangerous. If we are selling value that we, our solution, and our company can help to create, this comfort zone is limiting.

Staying within our comfort zone is likely to lead to an incomplete understanding of the customer's business - something we need in order to sell unique value. We will also have a limited network of people to develop as coaches. Making this even worse - if we are competing against an incumbent provider, good luck trying to figure out a path to victory.

By branching out, we meet more people, develop a stronger network of supporters, and gain a deeper understanding - all of which can improve our odds of success.

So, why do so many people stay within this comfort zone? It's the department and people we know best! Calling on this department is less work and less stress, even if it leads to less success, too. To be more effective, we need to stop calling only on the people we are supposed to call on, and develop an uncomfortable comfort zone.

More to come...