Are You Passive, Average, or Proactive?

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor

The caller says: “Tell you what…I’ve decided not to take the Blue Widget.”

  • Answer from a passive person: “Okay.” The caller feels nothing.
  • Answer from an average person: “You sure?” The caller feels slighted.
  • Answer from a proactive person: “Wow…it’s really a great Widget…and there’s a Widget maker that goes with it, for a small price. Why not keep it? You’ll love it.” The caller feels great; buys the Widget and the Widget maker.

See the difference? Now, which one are you? To be in sales (and everyone is in sales), do you need to be passive, average, or proactive?

Passive: A passive person accepts information and does nothing with it. Passive does not mean a person is bad, or that he or she shouldn’t be in sales. It simply means they’re passive – not active. Are there passive sales people? Of course there are. The thing about being passive is most people don’t like to be called that.

Passive individuals receive information and do nothing with it. It happens all the time. You go into the grocery store. You hand the checker your check, which has your name on it. Sometimes, the checker asks you for identification, and then does whatever it is they do. The clerk hands you back your ID and says, “Thank you.” Even though he or she had your name, it was never used.

Passive individuals receive information and do nothing with it. The checker had your name, twice. They had it once on the check and once on the ID.

But, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. From my experience, people who are passive and put into sales are, in truth, uncomfortable. Not bad, just uncomfortable. They’re not at ease telling others what is best for them.

So if you have passive individuals on your sales team, talk with them; be sure they’re happy. Be sure they’re comfortable in their job. My bet is they’re probably not quite there yet.

Average: – Let’s see what the dictionary says about average: average, medium, mediocre, fair, middling, indifferent, and tolerable. There are a lot of average folks out there.

Average individuals receive information and honestly try to do something with what they receive. It’s just that they don’t seem to be able to get over the hurdle. Average folks say a lot of things like, “Wow” and “Gee, that’s so interesting.” Those are “agreement statements,” used when they really don’t know what to say. They’re not bad, just not effective.

Day after day, millions of people – including sales people – go about their business being average, and yes, average people make sales. They do. Sometimes they even “fall” into a large order, but in truth it’s usually not something that they’re responsible for doing.

Average people go about their business being sort of happy with themselves when they could be so much more, which is very sad. I know some average folks I’d love to take under my wing to help them be slightly more proactive.

Proactive – It’s the proactive people in this world that make things happen. They find the sales. They are detectives. They ask more questions, look a little deeper, and always double check to be sure. Very few proactive people take “no” as an acceptable answer (or a final one).

Proactive individuals are exceptional. They are naturally inquisitive. They know it can be done. Proactive people love sales. They eat, sleep, and drink sales. They love to talk sales, think sales, and do sales. The sale is never boring to a proactive person.

A proactive sales person isn’t necessarily a workaholic. They enjoy vacations and even relax on them, but back at work, they have the ability to turn “on.” Normally upbeat and happy, proactive sales people seldom wallow in negativity or self pity. They’re somehow able to turn that negative into a positive.

Proactive people find a way to get it done. They make one more call, research a little more thoroughly, answer one more question, write up one more sale, and never run out of questions to ask. Proactive people think for their clients. They have solutions. They enjoy solving problems for the clients. They enjoy success. So, which one are you?

Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor, an international customer service training company, based in St. Louis, MO. Nancy is the author of four best selling books.

[From Connection Magazine March 2006]

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