Sales is a profession based upon pressure: pressure from sales management to make the numbers, pressure from competitors who are trying to defeat you, pressure you place yourself to be number one, and the pressure to perform on every sales call.
Pressure upon the salesperson during sales calls has a profound impact. It creates an emergency situation that triggers our body’s “fight or flight” system. Here are a few of the physiological changes that happen to a salesperson who is making a stressful customer sales call or conducting a critical presentation he hopes will land him the big deal.
The eyebrows instinctively rise and the eyes widen. The iris eye muscle contracts, causing the pupils to dilate. These actions enhance vision so that maximum visual information about the perceived threats can be sent to the brain.
The brain’s cortex interprets the visual information it is receiving and transmits messages to the brain’s hypothalamus. The hypothalamus activates the adrenal gland, which instantaneously releases adrenaline into the blood stream. The hormone adrenaline activates the body’s emergency response systems.
The heart pumps at up to twice its normal rate. Breathing increases so that the lungs can supply more oxygen to the blood. Oxygen-rich blood is sent to the brain for clearer thinking and to muscles for quick reactions. The stomach stops digestion so that blood can be diverted elsewhere in the body. The liver releases sugar reserves for a quick boost of energy, and the bladder sends a message that it wants to be emptied so the body can flee faster.
On the outside of the body, perspiration gathers as sweat glands are activated to reduce the body heat caused by the increased flow of blood. The mouth widens so that air can be taken in faster than through the nose. The face loses color and appears ashen as blood is diverted for more important uses.
The increase in bodily activity corresponds to the escalation of mental activity as well. The salesperson’s internal dialogue speeds up, jumps from subject to subject, and second-guesses itself. “Are they with me?” “What should I say next?” This tension and fear are exposed in the salespeople’s speech. They talk too fast, repeat themselves, stutter, or under extreme stress completely forget what they were going to say.
The reality of this situation is that the salesperson must project a calm, cool, collected presence to the customer at all times. To do otherwise would increase the customer’s stress level. Nervousness and agitation may be misinterpreted and convince customers that the salesperson has something to hide. Verbal faux pas may be thought of as incompetence. Think about your last visit to your dentist. What would your reaction have been if before he started to work on your mouth he seemed nervous, agitated, or flustered? You would be scared and have a very stressful appointment.