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Small Compass Sound Sales: Baggage

By Mark McGlinchey - Written by Compass Group Solutions Founder Mark McGlinchey, this article first appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal

Sales Tip

Today, the term ‘baggage’ is a popular cliché. When you hear the expression, “He or she has some baggage”, it generally means they are walking around with ideas or conceptions in their head which are holding them back, making them unhappy or preventing them from further achievement. If you’ve been in the ‘Sales Wars’ long enough, you are probably walking around with your fair share of baggage.

Seeking Approval

All human beings have a certain need for approval. Socially, this may be an admirable quality, but in sales, it can really hold you back. You don’t need the prospect’s approval. You need the prospect’s trust and respect… there is a difference. From our early childhood through our formative years, we have been programmed to seek approval. Our parents and other authority figures had mechanisms in place for us to seek their approval. As we got older, we continued to seek approval from others. In fact, I can’t even think of a religion which isn’t based on seeking a higher authority’s approval.

Therefore, it is only natural in sales, consciously or unconsciously, for us to have a need for approval. We want to be liked and accepted by our prospects. The consequences of seeking approval from our prospects have a far-reaching effect on our sales efforts. In sales, when we’re burdened with seeking approval, we don’t ask the tough questions we should be asking. We are constantly trying to avoid hearing the word no.

Super Consumer

The way we buy products and services as individuals will have a direct correlation or effect on how we allow our prospects to buy products and services from us. Let’s assume you consider yourself a very knowledgeable and savvy consumer – you do a lot of research before you make a major purchase; you like to comparison shop for price; you clip coupons; you’re more than willing to ask for a discount; you like to inform salespeople they are in fierce competition with someone else for your business. Congratulations, you’re one shrewd consumer!

If you also happen to be a sales professional, it’s time for a ‘consumer lobotomy’. Everyone tends to see him or herself as normal. Thus, if you consider your own shopping habits to be ‘normal’ consumer behavior, not only will you allow your prospects to do this to you, you will somewhat encourage it.

Fear of Failure

This is closely related to seeking approval. However, there is a difference. Seeking approval is baggage which gets in the way once the selling cycle is started, or once you are working a deal. Fear of failure is that awful baggage which prevents you from even leaving the starting blocks. It’s almost like you think the word NO has the same devastating effect as a .357 Magnum – and it doesn’t! You cannot win a race which you refuse to enter. I believe in the old adage ‘the sales professional who hears the most no’s is also the sales professional who hears the word yes the most.’

Negotiating with Yourself

This particular piece of baggage is reversible, weather-resistant, can resist punctures, dents and scratches, and will fit in any compartment you like. Here’s some of the conversation you may have with yourself which indicates you are carrying this bag:

“They surely won’t pay our price.”

“I must call on certain people in the organization and never call on others.”

“I can’t make calls on Friday afternoon.”

“We’re not competitive.”

“I can’t get to the decision-makers.”

“I can’t make a sale without making a top-notch presentation.”

“They’re going to need time to think it over in order to make a decision.”

“They’ll never share their budget with me.”


Have you noticed how strikingly similar baggage is to stalls and objections which you might hear from your prospects? However, baggage is not the stalls and objections you’re hearing from your prospects, but rather the obstacles you have in your own mind – even before you start working a deal. You’re creating your own stalls and objections. The prospect isn’t blocking you from making a sale. You’re blocking yourself from making a sale. You can’t prevent a legitimate stall or objection which comes from your prospects. However, you can completely control your own sales baggage. Any time you begin negotiating with yourself, you need to ask yourself the following question: “Do I know this is an irrefutable fact?” Almost certainly, the answer will be no. Therefore, move the baggage out of the way and move forward.


Keywords: Sales Professionals & Baggage, Sales Tips, Sales Professional Development, Sales Leadership Development, Sales Management Tips, Sound Sales, Sales Consulting, Compass Group Solutions, Mark McGlinchey

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