Like most kids, I had a summer job growing up to fuel my music obsession – those Van Halen albums weren’t given away for free! Thankfully I never had to make popcorn at a movie theater, clean bathrooms in a mall, or flip burgers at a fast food restaurant although I did deliver them on a bicycle during my college years at Texas A&M University, but that’s for another blog. No, my career calling as a teenager was that of a lifeguard at the city pool. The mental image you are likely conjuring is accurate: shorty red lifeguard trunks, nose pristine-white with zinc oxide, and sitting in a chair watching for any possible emergency.
Looking back on the extensive training I received, there is one part I still remember vividly to this day: “in an emergency situation, you need to be the calmest person in the room.” If you’ve ever been part of or witnessed a life-threatening emergency, this is perhaps the best advice in the world. In a selling situation, this is also tremendous advice.
I’ve worked with many salespeople who get flustered, become defensive, or even outright panic when a buyer has issues with past orders or concerns about service. When this happens, the result is rarely a sale and usually ends up damaging the relationship. Let’s face it, no one wants to buy from the salesperson that got defensive over misprinted merchandise. By being the calmest person in the room, you exude confidence, authority, and, most of all, care. A calm demeanor also has the added impact of keeping the other person calm as well.
If you’re not the calmest person in the room when the sales conversation becomes challenging, you’ve already lost. Just like a lifeguard who needs to be the calmest person in an emergency situation, the salesperson who remains the calmest in a challenging sales conversation has best chance to make the save.