What comes to mind when you think of the word “status?” Many people (myself included) tend to think of Facebook labels: single, married, none of your business… But status can also mean how we perceive ourselves in relation to others. This often unconscious perception is proven to have a profound effect on the quality of our relationships, the way people respond to us and the amount of influence we are able to wield. In other words, status effects your relationships with prospects and in turn, whether you’re successful in sales.
How status effects your relationships
The way you feel about yourself in relation to a prospect is expressed both nonverbally and verbally. Your posture, the way you move, the amount of eye contact you make – together these things convey status subconsciously to your prospect before you ever open your mouth.
High status people stand up taller, their eye contact is direct without being obtrusive, and they move comfortably and confidently in their bodies. People tend to respond more positively to someone who exhibits physical confidence, without veering off into cockiness.
The strength and tone of your voice as well as the words you use also reflect your status. Salespeople with low status tend to speak softer, use indirect language and apologize for taking up your prospect’s time or excessively thank them for it. Low status behavior tends to reinforce a prospect’s already low opinion of salespeople or lower an initially high opinion.
It’s important that you become aware of your status with customers and determine if it’s supporting your desired relationship or detracting from it.
The Danger of Low Status
Too many salespeople approach customers from a low status position. Our brains tell us things like, “They’re doing me a favor. I’m interrupting them from more important work. Their time is more valuable than mine,” etc. Not only are these lies, but they hurt you in the long run. Prospects pick up on these social cues and start to believe them and act accordingly. Ultimately, you think your time isn’t valuable, then it won’t be perceived that way to others.
Don’t Play Small with Prospects
It doesn’t pay to play small. Actors, who use status to understand their relationships with other characters, know that there are no small parts, only small actors. Thus, even the actor with the fewest number of lines in a play must see his or her role as integral to the entire production, just as your role can be integral to your prospect’s business. Think of actors who made the most out of very small roles, like:
Michael Keeton in Beatlejuice was on screen for only 17 minutes out of 90 min movie but made an unforgettable mark.
Judy Dench won a best supporting actress role for 8 min of screen time in Shakespeare in Love
As a salesperson you too must see yourself as having an important role in your prospect’s business, and step up and accept it. You can have high status without being disrespectful or cocky.
How to Assume a Healthy Status with Prospects
- Become aware of your current status with customers. What are your telling yourself and how do you exhibit your status both verbally and nonverbally?
- Choose a status that serves you and your relationship. (i.e., trusted advisor, colleague, fellow expert or consultant.)
- Prepare for your meeting with your new status top-of-mind. Before behavior becomes natural, you likely need to practice it. Don’t be alarmed if it feels different.
- Observe the changes in yourself (physically, vocally) and the way your customer responds to you.
There’s a direct link between your status and how you are treated by your prospect. When you assume a proper status, your body, voice and even your words fall into line and your prospect is more likely to value your relationship and treat you the way you’d like to be treated.
For more insights into how prospects and salespeople think – and the impact it can have – check out Does It Matter Whether Prospects Like You? Salespeople Speak Out.