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Frankness is Your Friend

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I have a partner in my business. I met Rod shortly after I started my consulting firm. I was teaching a class on Presenting Your Solution and Negotiating the Close. Fast forward to a couple years later and Rod had expressed an interest in working with me. I needed the help and enjoyed his company so I figured why not?

As with any business, as our company grew we had some style and communications challenges to overcome. I felt he was pushing his approach too hard, and he felt I was being too resistant and was not open to new ideas. Initially we did not work through our differences very well. But after a while we would get into spirited conversations over things. During these conversations our frustrations with each other would come out. We both clearly let each other know how we felt. The greatest benefit of these was we were very frank with each other. We knew exactly where each other stood. We then were able to agree how to move forward. As imperfect of a process as it was, it seemed to work for us. Now we have recognized that the gift of frankness doesn’t have to be reserved for when we get fed up enough to get upset. We decided to have weekly “Frankness Meetings” so we could air any frustrations early and problem solve sooner. The Corlea Group has continued to grow and prosper with some amazing opportunities on the horizon.

What does this have to do With Sales?

Often I see sales professionals ignoring key issues in a sales process because they’re afraid to ask the tough question. The question could be about budget. The question could be about timeline. The question could be about asking for access to other stakeholders or resources. What is getting in their way is what I like to refer to as the “f” word – fear. They’re afraid they may potentially lose the business because there’s a question out there that might upset the client’s mindset causing them to eliminate them from consideration.

The Downside of Not Asking

If you don’t ask the tough question, you most likely have set yourself and your team up for problems. Why? Because when it comes to presenting the proposal, you most likely have an assumption in there. Or you have hidden the tough issue that might surprise the client, or, even worse, just glossed over a key issue that could affect a successful implementation or on-boarding as a client. By fearing a frank relationship with your prospect, you very well could have a disaster on your hands. By fearing a frank relationship with your client, you could lose them to the competition. By fearing a frank relationship with a partner, you could end up sabotaging referrals they may have sent your way.

The Upside of Asking

So I always encourage Sales professionals to ask up front. Get the questions out. Have a frank and honest relationship with your prospect. Have a frank and honest relationship with your client. By doing so, you will find the right solution for them, a much more successful on-boarding, and increase the likelihood of a long term relationship, driving sustainable revenue for the business for years to come.

Jack Kelly
Jack Kelly
Jack founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.
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