There is a glass sitting on a table, and it has water in it that reaches halfway up the glass. Is the glass half full or half empty?
Actually, both are accurate, it depends on your view. And talk about “views”…the old saying that “Some see the glass as half full, and some see it as half empty” is a terrific illustration of seeing things through your own filter. Most views of life are merely subjective. Suppose you are a sales manager, and you hear one of your salespeople say, “I had a great meeting, and this guy is very interested. I feel like it is ninety five percent closed.” You analyze the account yourself and realize it really was not qualified properly, your sales rep did not discuss the dollars it would take to get the job done, and most importantly, the fellow he spoke with is not the ultimate decision-maker. You would put a fifty/fifty chance on this at best.
How did you and your salesperson come to two such different conclusions about the meeting?
Well, the salesperson bonded with the prospect. They talked baseball for twenty-five minutes of the meeting, and laughed about their toddlers’ curiosity in the team. This convinced your salesperson that he won the prospect over, and he would buy.
On the other hand, you feel that, since the proper questions were not asked and the proper presentation was not done, the proposal is bound for either failure or luck—and it would be strictly luck—but has a fifty/fifty chance of either.
Which of you is right? Which of you is wrong? No one really knows, which makes forecasting pretty difficult and illustrates the point that we see things through our own “filters.” These filters, just like ones on sunglasses, can make the world appear darker, rosier, or bluer. Most often, two people will not see the same occurrence at all.
Why do you and your salesperson see this sales call so differently? It is mostly because of those filtering glasses. The sales guy sees the bonding as a huge buying sign, because that is what he looks for when he buys. You, the sales manager, see the technique of the call, which was flawed, and without the proper steps. You feel it cannot work unless luck steps in and lends a hand. And since you do not believe in luck, only in fact and process, you have a very skeptical view of the outlook for this particular prospect signing a contract. You believe that all of the “T”s need to be crossed and the “I”s dotted before the prospect will buy.
So who is correct? While time alone will tell whether this particular prospect will sign or not, the larger truth is that there is not always a right or wrong answer to how you view situations. Everyone sees things very differently. How important is that to know? Well, let’s take this from a few angles. First, that of a sales manager. Do you see how an enthusiastic salesperson can paint a picture so rosy that they have it practically booked and it is not even close?
Or take it from the point of view of a salesperson. A sales rep may call on a quiet, thoughtful prospect and conclude that this prospect does not like her because he does not become gregarious and friendly during the pitch. In reality, it is simply that she is calling on a reserved, studious, deep-thinker type. He was merely going through the questions he felt were important, sticking to business, and mentally reviewing her answers instead of reacting to them verbally. Actually he had all intentions of buying the product, but the filter she sees through is, “He did not talk to me…that means he does not like me,” which to her, means no sale.
Sometimes we see through other people’s filters. As salespersons, we do this often in the presentation stage. Rather than giving all of the “features and benefits” of the product as we see them, we give them as someone in corporate decided we should see them.
We are not even being true to our own vision.
This reminds me of a car sales encounter I had years ago. I was looking for an SUV. After looking at several vehicles of the “This car reminds me of something that totes a small village” type, I looked at a smaller version. I began telling this salesman a little about my situation. He obviously had some training because he did ask me a few questions. “Is anyone in your family tall?” was one of them.
“No, no one is tall” I answered with curiosity while walking toward the car. I got in the car to drive, and he proudly started telling me about the twelve extra inches of headroom that this car had as opposed to the other I had been looking at. He had asked me the question but did not truly listen to the answer because someone in Marketing obviously felt this was an important feature. My response to his question made it plain that, to me, this feature would not be particularly important at all.
It is best if we can see a situation as clearly as possible…with a minimum of filtering, whether rosy, gloomy, or simply distorted. But note that I said “as clearly as possible.” I recognize that seeing things completely unfiltered is a near-impossibility. Still, for the most accurate assessment of your chances with a prospect, your most accurate assessment of what the prospect you are facing wants (in the case of my SUV, headroom was clearly not one of my issues and there was no need for it to have been mentioned), and your most accurate assessment of the best tack to take in any sales situation, try to remove the filters as much as possible and see the situation as clearly, as plainly, as true-to-just-the-facts as you possibly can.
It will help you to react more appropriately to what is going on, deal more appropriately with the client, and assess the encounter more accurately after the fact.
Is the glass half full or half empty? Both. It is all in your viewpoint. Try to make your viewpoint as unfiltered as possible.