Perception is Reality


Perception is Reality

Perception is the only ‘truth’ when it comes to sales. You are marketing yourself as much as you are your product and services. A customer may get all the answers they need – but did you appear to want to help them? Did you try to determine their real need and find a solution? How the customer interprets your presentation is vital.

So what is the truth?

This age old question has some very deep implications.  Yet, the question reminds us that two people can experience the same incident and walk away with completely different perceptions of what actually happened.

Sometimes like beauty, “truth” is in the eye of the beholder.

It is a matter of perception.

Take a Mystery Shopping report for example. The mystery shopper remembers a specific leasing presentation in one way, but it is somewhat different from how the leasing professional who was evaluated remembers the situation. If the shopper were to report that the leasing consultant was a bit    distracted or indifferent, not very friendly, or “didn’t seem interested in meeting my needs”, a supervisor who receives the mystery shopping report might have difficulty believing that that this typically very friendly and warm staff member could ever come across in any way but delightful, enthusiastic and professional!  “Everyone loves her!” the supervisor explains.

We interact with our co-workers and teams often on a daily basis, but we only have one shot at impressing the customer. What if we have a bad day? We get to write it off – and our supervisors will often times as well – as an exception to the rule. But the customer whose only experience with us was on that ‘bad day’ could very well believe that this would be their experience on any given day.

Sometimes the gap between what we believe about our own performance and what the customer takes away from the interaction comes down merely to each person’s perception. Regardless of what really (or not really!) happened, how that customer feels about their experience with us – their perception – is the only “truth” that really matters!

Selling is all about perception

Coworkers may say, “Frank is the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet! We love him!”  But if Frank is perceived as unfriendly by his customer, then to that prospect he will be described as unfriendly.  We may hear, “Sara is really nice once you get to know her!”  While this may be one of the ways Sara has been described historically, it does not take away from how her last customer perceived their experience with her. The reality is the prospect is unlikely to have time to really ‘get to know’ us as a salesperson. The more we try to connect with them, however, the likelier they are to have a positive emotional reaction to our presentation.

The truth the customer walks away with – their first impression- is the only truth that matters in the sales presentation!

The reality of it is that we are not warm, friendly, genuine, enthusiastic, professional, etc. unless the customer (or mystery shopper) perceives and believes that to be true!

Be perceived appropriately

It’s true – humans are emotionally driven creatures. Perception encompasses highly emotive words like intuition and insight. When another person perceives you to be interested in them as a person, it follows that they believe you are interested not just in selling them what you have but in finding a solution that truly will work for them.

Universally recognized behaviors such as a genuine smile and a nod or wave in greeting, regular eye contact, and courteous gestures are examples of adding non-verbal “friendly support” to the words you choose.  You might use the same words as a co-worker, but the one of you who enhances the presentation with non-verbal warmth and sincerity, will more likely close the sale.

“She made me feel that my needs were important…”

Focus on feedback

One of the greatest opportunities we have in sales is to receive feedback and to be able to take action to improve. Whether it’s a comment card, a mystery shopping report, a formal evaluation, or an online review – be open to how your customer and other perceive their interactions with you.

Practice making that extra effort to positively influence the way you are coming across.  Not only will you see a definite improvement in closing rations (and mystery shopping scores), you’ll find far greater satisfaction in your everyday relationships.

Always remember… perception is reality!