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Last week I posted a blog that touched on the subject of selling adult-to-adult. This was mainly written to be digested from the salesperson’s perspective. But as a sales manager, I want to reinforce this topic from a management perspective.

In my book The Contrarian Salesperson, Rule #2 has to do with selling ‘adult-to-adult’.

Just a quick recap.

The traditional selling model shows that the prospect/client is the parent, and the salesperson's the child. With that interaction comes all kinds of negative things. Things for salespeople like:

• Being commoditized
• Doing a lot of unpaid consulting
• Being treated as a lower life form
• Having prospects/clients that don't want to see us, avoid us, or they even shop us around

I can go through 20 more, right? But it all starts with the mindset of are you falling into that parent-child relationship?

So selling adult-to-adult, it's all about equal business stature. Can you have an equal business stature? Because if you get treated like a child in sales, you will never get to that point of being a trusted advisor with your prospects and clients. This is the best place you can be, versus you being regulated to the term of a vendor, or a supplier. Vendors and suppliers are treated a different way than trusted advisors are, and it all starts with the mindset.

Are you encouraging your salespeople to not fall into the parent-child trap?

A couple of things you can do as a manager.

First of all, keep reinforcing the message of establishing adult to adult stature. Call your salespeople on it. When you see them falling prey to the moves and games prospects play to put them in the child role, point it out to them. When you're doing your debriefing, or doing your coaching, or interacting with your salespeople, point it out to them. Even on a joint sales call when you're there and you're debriefing them, point it out to them. Many salespeople don't see it. They really don’t.

They're so close to it, and many salespeople think that being a ‘child’ in sales just part of selling itself. That it’s just the way people get treated. But I can guarantee you it's not how every salesperson gets treated, and every industry tends to have people like the 80/20 rule. Most salespeople are treated as children, but there's that top tier that are treated as trusted advisors.

So, one last idea for your too, is lots of continued role playing. There are certain things you can pinpoint. Specific places where this happens. It might be when someone says, "Hey, can you just quote this?" or, "Your price is too high," or, "I'm going to shop this around". Identify those specific places where they might kind of default into the child role and that's what you'll practice with them.

So get really specific on that, because role play creates muscle memory. You want to create that muscle memory so when the prospect wants to put them into the child role they don't go there, and instead they make it adult-to-adult.



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