First Person: Don’t Let Perfectionism Destroy Your Career in Sales

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When I first started my career in sales and marketing over 30 years ago, I found it very challenging to live up to my ethical standards which said to always tell the truth. I was a Boy Scout with its Boy Scout Law and then a cadet at the USAF Academy where I lived under an Honor Code for four years. Add to these my tendency towards being a perfectionist, and I had some challenges that almost killed my career in sales before I got started.

From my experience as well as from reading, the issue of a perfectionist in sales is that the product's never good enough as all products have some flaws or weaknesses.

Lessons I Had to Learn and Apply to Get Past Perfectionism

- While my product or service isn't perfect, likewise my competitor's isn't either.

- Honesty is important but don't bring up flaws that they don't ask about - the issue is whether the product is good enough to fix the problem they have.

- If it can't fix the problem, be honest - if possible, send them to someone who has a product that will work.

- If it can fix the problem but you suspect someone else has a better product, then you need to factor in your own value and your company's. As long as it works, you can focus on selling your product and still be true to your customer.

- Let your desire for perfection motivate you to do your best but set deadlines so you take action. A less than perfect book is far more valuable to the world than a perfect book that never gets published.

- You may not know enough to appreciate how superior your product is because you don't know your competitors' weaknesses.

Examples of Successful Products despite Being Less than Perfect

One of the things that help me rein in my perfectionism is looking at and acknowledging products that thrive despite being imperfect because they are better than what we had before and they satisfy the need they were designed to fill.

- Kindle's original black and white ebook readers

- Digital cell phones, the feature phones before smart phones

- Windows 3.0

- TRS-80 microcomputers

One example of a product I sold because I loved what it could do for my prospects - despite my concern that it wasn't perfect - was the TRS-80. After I had moved into the PC world, I learned that the TRS-80 was better than Apple II in many areas and even had features better than MS-DOS, like password protection. Radio Shack's word processing package, Scriptsit, was modeled after a standalone word processing system. It was better than any other for several years.

Solutions to Perfectionism in Your Sales Team

- Focus on your prospects' problems and on the solution they want and need.

- Acknowledge that your products and services will have to evolve.

- Give you sales people as much competitive information as possible.

- Give them testimonials so they can understand why your customers love your products despite any weaknesses.

- Teach them to take action.

Perfectionism is a fairly common problem that affects lots of sales people. You can preserve your career as well as the careers of your sales people by teaching them how to deal with this personality trait. When they learn to focus on their prospects' needs and wants and limit their concern to whether your products provide the solutions, they will become happier and successful while serving the needs of your prospects.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

More from this contributor :

First Person: Sales Success Means Focusing on Your Ideal Customer Profile

First Person: Relationship Selling Works, Even in Niche Markets

First Person: By Selling on Value, Everyone Wins


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