Monday, October 1, 2012

Fancy Word, Strong Advice: Obviate

Most people -- especially women -- do a double-take the first time they hear the word "obviate." They think they're hearing this word instead. Obviate means "to anticipate and prevent." A simple form of obviation is looking outside your window, noting the gray skies (very common here in Erie), and grabbing an umbrella in case it rains. You don't have to wait to see rain drops to anticipate that you might get drenched today.

Obviating prevents any problem, even potential or small, from becoming a major issue. Salespeople need to obviate every situation, paying particular attention to historic failings. As the adage goes, history tends to repeat itself. The more you obviate, the more successful you will be. Obviating is a proactive approach that causes you to take action prior to the problem arising.

How To Obviate
This may be the shortest "how to" in world history. You need to skeptically look at your sales situation and think "What could go wrong and what can I do to prevent it?" Then take the appropriate action.

Here are a few examples of how a sales rep can obviate:
Example #1: A rep usually slumps after a good month or a good quarter. History proves that when they've had success, they get comfortable and slump for the next 30 days or so. The rep and their manager should anticipate this activity occurring and take steps to ensure the rep doesn't slump.

Example #2: A sales rep believes they have a customer sold but they don't have a signed contract. The rep and their manager should be skeptical and ask the question, "What else is the rep missing that could prevent the customer from buying?" Once this information is uncovered, the rep should take actions that will ensure the account closes.

Example #3: When things are perceived to be going well, people relax. If a sales rep is "rosy" (overly optimistic) or Living In The World of Comfort, the rep and their manager should be skeptical and ask, "What else should be done?" The rep and their manager should use Critical Thinking to develop a plan based on the answers to the question.

Guiding point: We humans generally aren't inclined to think about problems. You may be criticized for always being negative. In time, as you anticipate and solve your problems, your co-workers will realize the value and appreciate it.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.