“At the top of the U is really where you prepare the conversation and you start positive always. You always want to start positive, always want to end positive.” – Jacquelyn Nicholson in today’s Tip 1507
How do you navigate difficult conversations?
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Jacquelyn Nicholson on LinkedIn
Jacquelyn Nicholson on Sales Success Stories Interview
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today I’ve got a clip from my most recent conversation on the Sales Success Stories podcast with Jacquelyn Nicholson, an incredibly dedicated member of the Sales Success Community and the top sales performer at Leadspace. Here she is with a dose of brilliance:
Jacquelyn Nicholson: So the way to navigate a difficult conversation, and hopefully it’s something you have time to prepare for, because nobody likes to have a difficult conversation in a moment where you’re completely set back on your heels. But if you’re set back on your heels, you can always ask for time saying things like, Gosh, that is a really interesting question, or that’s a really interesting observation. I haven’t really thought about that. I’d like to take some time to think about that. Why don’t we get together? What does early next week look like for you? So giving yourself some time to prepare, some time to take thought, because what we often do in difficult situations is we react as opposed to respond, and you always want to give yourself time to respond. So if you can buy yourself some time, either in the moment to ask a question back to the person or to buy yourself some time in terms of hours or days, that’s always a positive thing to do when you’re having a difficult conversation that’s just presented itself and you’ve got nothing. That’s the first thing.
So when you have time to prepare, I’d like to visualize a capital U on a piece of paper. So you draw a capital U starting at the top on the left and you go down to the bottom and you come back up to the right side. And so at the top of the U is really where you prepare the conversation and you start positive always. You always want to start positive, always want to end positive. You start really positive. Let’s say it’s a question about territories or accounts, assignments, or things like that. So you can say, you always want to start very positive, and primarily you want to be positive about yourself. So you were my boss and we were having a conversation about a difficult situation with an account assignment, let’s say. So I say, Scott, you know I pride myself on being a team player. I’ve overperformed here. You know how much I value my teammates and the work that we all do here, and I just really appreciate your leadership. And then we want to pivot to the heart of the matter. So that’s how I’d role-play the beginning is something very positive about me, about our relationship, about our working environment. Then I need to pivot to the heart of the matter. I feel like there’s been some shady stuff happening on an account assignment. I want to pivot, not with a, Hey, Scott, you know how much I value our relationship, but… Because nobody remembers all the good stuff you just said when you pivot with the but. So we pivot with my concern is, or the thing I’ve been thinking about, something like that. So I could say to you all those positive things and say, My concern is, we’re either an organization that has rules of engagement when it comes to accounts and territories or we’re not. And you’re going to probably say to me, Well, what are you talking about? So there’s probably some curiosity I’ve developed by saying something like that. And I could say, Well, I have a concern because I saw that this deal closed and based on our terms of engagement and the rules that we have in the company, subsidiaries are to be assigned to the person who has the parent account. I really hesitated to come to you because I feel like I’m in a bad position either way here because I’m either damned if I do, I’m damned if I don’t. And so there I was, I dropped a little thing on the table that’s, you know, you’re like, What do you mean? What are you talking about?
So my concern is like, Look, I didn’t do anything to win this deal. I’m not looking to take anything away from anybody. But if I don’t speak up for myself, I’m screwed. So I’m in a bad position. I either look like I’m looking for something I didn’t deserve or earn, or I’m whining or worse, I’m just complaining and not coming to you with a solution. But if I don’t say anything, I’m not fighting for myself. And so it gives the person you’re talking to about this very difficult conversation because something like this is extremely difficult conversation for a salesperson to have with their manager or somebody that’s in sales ops. And so usually at that point in a difficult conversation like this, the person is going to say, Well, what do you think is fair? What are you looking for? And in this scenario, this is actually a real thing that happened to me. I’d say, What I would actually ask for in this situation, if you think it’s fair, is I’m not looking to take credit away from anybody else, but I do think that it would be a fair thing to give me quota retirement for the deal that should have been assigned to me, that I should have worked, and it was really done in a shady way. But whatever you think, I’m open to suggestions, open to talk about this.
And so after that, it’s time to end on a very positive note. So the way you pivot in a conversation like that is to say, I really appreciate your time. I know these conversations are hard to have, but I think that our relationship is in a better, more trusting place. And as iron sharpens iron, so another man sharpens another. And so I feel like we’ve grown from this situation. And I really appreciate you hearing me out. And regardless of what happens, I’m here for the team and I really appreciate you listening. So that’s an example of the U.
Scott Ingram: For my full conversation with Jacquelyn including the incredible story of how she literally almost died on a sales call, just click over to DailySales.Tips/1507 and we’ll have links for you there. Once you’ve done that, be sure to come back tomorrow for another great sales tip. Thanks for listening!