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How Boundaries Can Make You a Better Salesperson

One of the most interesting and counterintuitive things about boundaries is that the thicker and stronger they are, the closer and happier your relationships become. If you think of a boundary as a big, strong wall that protects you from the behaviors of others that impact you negatively, it can be hard to imagine that this “wall” also helps you connect more deeply. Yet, those who set boundaries successfully experience the joy of being 100% present with individuals who used to cause constant distress.

In business, boundaries work the same way. The thicker and stronger your boundaries are, the better your relationships are. You get more personal space, people get under your skin less, and you don’t have to spend as much of your time and energy “managing” people. As a result, when you are with others you have more energy to listen, be present, and engage. And better things happen as a result.

Let’s explore how boundaries can function in a sales position. Making sales calls can be awkward and embarrassing, having to approach people who don’t want to be sold to and trying not to take rejection personally. The behavior from others that often “harms” us is personal rejection. When we lack boundaries, we try to protect ourselves from rejection by avoiding it. And since we can’t control who does and does not reject us, we get stuck in draining, anxiety-ridden relationships with all of our potential customers.

Conversely, when strong boundaries are in place, they prevent rejection from hurting us. The first step toward this is to understand that when people don’t want to buy a product or service, their decision is directly related to the product or service, not the person selling it. Second, we must protect ourselves by respecting the boundaries of our prospects, which means we don’t push, manipulate, pressure, convince, or cajole. By creating an authentic, safe space to explore the prospect’s needs, we set the stage for a mutually respectful relationship, whether we end up doing business together or not. Finally, it’s important not to attach our personal worth to the negotiation, no matter how personal or directly related to our experience. With these principles in mind, we can intentionally create a system that guarantees an abundance of prospects so that we don’t “need” any one of them to purchase from us to survive and thrive.

This is much easier said than done, however, because our experience relies heavily on the stories we tell ourselves about how good or bad we are at sales, what success or failure means about us, and how secure we are financially. But, if you do boundaries work, you will find that the prospecting process becomes easier, less anxiety-ridden, less draining, and more fun. Because it’s more fun and takes less effort, you do more of it, and have more success and abundance as a result.

Here is a table that compares three key steps in the sales process, showing how much easier, healthier, and positive each phase can be when you have strong boundaries.

Point of Contact Weak Boundaries Strong Boundaries
The Approach Rejection feels personal, so we feel a lot of anxiety going in. We often procrastinate, and when we do get the courage to talk, our discomfort is hard to hide. This makes the prospect feel awkward and want to avoid us. They may show a polite interest to be “nice” and we cling to the hope of them becoming a customer. Or they might push us away directly and we feel the sting. Rejection is not about us – it’s about the product or service, so we feel safe going in and we lead with curiosity. Might this person have a use for our product or service? How can we find out? Since our curiosity is genuinely about the other person’s needs, they open up to us and tell us more about their situation. The discussion feels positive and with no pressure, a relationship begins.
The Follow Up We pressure ourselves to follow up with everyone who shows an interest, and we continue to feel anxiety around the follow up. We don’t want to be annoying, but we also need to find out whether this person has potential to become a client. We may procrastinate and feel guilty. The whole process eats up our mental and emotional energy. Because we’ve done the work to discover whether or not our product might be useful to someone and how, we don’t follow up with people who we’ve assessed don’t have a need. Or we do a personal follow up if we like them. For those few we believe could use the product or service, we customize our follow up to their needs – as an invitation to talk further. And then we don’t think about it unless they respond.
The Negotiation Negotiating price produces anxiety because if a prospect complains about the price it can feel like a statement about our value or worth.  We may be afraid we’ll scare people away with prices that are too high or devalue ourselves by quoting prices that are too low. Again, the process can be fraught with anxiety or frustration and drain our mental energy. Price has nothing to do with our value. It is simply what the other person is willing to pay to get what they need. We set a price that feels fair and if our prospect negotiates, we consider the offer and decide whether it makes sense for us. Price negotiations are not laced with extra energy or meaning. We simply share information on pricing at the natural point in the conversation so they can make a good decision. While we try to set clear expectations up front, some people are price sensitive. If they get cold feet, we don’t take it personally.  We move on with confidence in our products, services, and the abundance of other prospects.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic or finding out about our programs, you can contact Nahid via e-mail at nahid@coachnahid.com or call 714-931-2133.

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