Whoever coined the phrase, “It’s a jungle out there!” must have been a sales rep. Why? Because some days you’ll encounter more difficult customers than there are animals in the jungle. When hacking your way through the dense underbrush to get to the sale, the trick is to stay cool, calm and in control. See if you recognize here some of the creatures you must deal with from time to time. Then follow my simple instructions for a successful sales safari.

It’s a Jungle Out There!

  • The Monkey. This quarrelsome and inconsiderate buyer goes out of his way to make trouble. The Monkey likes to fume, argue and misrepresent facts, and particularly enjoys trying to derail your presentation. This type must be treated politely, patiently, and without direct counterargument. Ignore his antics, keep your presentation on track, and, above all, be firm! When Monkey sees he is not getting to you, Monkey will calm down.

  • The Sloth. This ultra-deliberate client is painfully slow-moving, slow-thinking, and indecisive. Speak to the Sloth slowly and clearly, taking up just one point at a time. Do not confuse him with superfluous details or complex concepts. The upside is that once the Sloth truly gets it, he is usually sold!

  • The Magpie. A most talkative customer, the Magpie chatters without stopping, often forgets what he started to say, and without prompting, cheerfully launches into his family history, holiday plans, or stories from his college days. Treat this type with tolerance and self-control. Be watchful for opportunities to bring him back.  Lead the conversation, be businesslike, and keep him focused on your sales message.

  • The Crab. This crabby prospect may be tired, ill, unhappy, nervous, or just chronically irritable. Ever moving sideways, the Crab is contradictory, jumpy, and must be met with patience and a calm, soothing voice. A warm smile coupled with agreement, understanding, and respect, will usually win him over.

  • The Peacock. A self-important and snobbish decision-maker, the Peacock fans his tail feathers and looks down his regal beak at you and the goods or services you offer. The Peacock often makes haughty or derisive remarks, which requires rigid politeness and good temper from you. Your best bet is to ignore his preening, posturing, and snooty behavior, and pleasantly move on with your presentation.

  • The Cat. The Cat is your most suspicious contact. This animal doubts the sincerity or accuracy of your representations, is cynical about your claims, and demands clear, detailed proof of benefits backed up by hard, documented facts. Your deference and unruffled temper will pay off. Do not be intimidated or insulted by his sometimes rude remarks, which question your product’s worth, or your honesty and sincerity.

  • The Rooster. This decisive, smart-aleck customer is cocksure, impatient, and intolerant. Since the Rooster rules the roost, this type wishes to make his own decision without appearing to yield to a mere salesperson. Rooster should be permitted to strut his way to a decision while you practice good humor, respect, and patience.

  • The Dodo. With a room-temperature IQ and the attention span of a three-year-old, the Dodo is the airhead of the sales animal menagerie. Don’t be surprised if, at the end of your presentation, this poor soul is still unclear on exactly what you’re selling, and what he’s supposed to do. Don’t bother starting over, because the Dodo probably doesn’t have the buying authority anyway. Instead, diplomatically locate someone who does.

  • The Mouse. We all have met the indecisive or timid prospect who does not know his own mind, and is vague and uncertain. This type needs to have the facts presented confidently and clearly, and his mind literally made up for him. With tact and understanding, give the Mouse what he wants, which is to be led gently by hand to the buying decision.

  • The Crow. Here is the stingy, close-to-the-chest buyer, who is interested not so much in benefits and features as in picking your price apart. The loud and repeated cry of this bird is “too high, too high!” Dealing with him calls for concentration on price justification, backed up with solid, documented proof. Stick to your guns to win the Crow’s respect, and his order.

  • The Beaver. This super-busy type hardly has time to hear you out.  Given to taking—even making—phone calls and conducting other business during your presentation while continually looking at his watch, this type needs a highly visual and entertaining presentation to grab his interest. Be quick to get to the bottom-line benefits of your product or service. Once sold, show Mr. Busy Beaver where to sign on the dotted line, so you can be on your way and he can get back to being busy.

As you can see, the sales world has its share of wild and wooly creatures.  Put on your pith helmet, study the habits of these sometimes cantankerous creatures, and learn how to respond to their individual idiosyncrasies. You’ll have more fun while preserving your sanity and closing more sales.

For more resources on successful selling, click here.

About the author

Michael Dalton Johnson

Michael Dalton Johnson is an award-winning publisher and successful entrepreneur and business leader. He…

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