In the Trenches: Turning negative selling attitudes into positive produce sales

greeepwaeoijfde“When opportunity knocks, the grumbler complains about the noise.”

I associate that expression with several past experiences in the produce industry. Some of those personal accounts still take place within the retail circle today. Maybe you’ve heard some of the same antagonistic reactions when trying to motivate selling attitudes out in the trenches. There are always a certain number of individuals who carry an adverse personality around with them wherever there is a connection to selling.

Ever notice the negative attitude of the person who is always against everything in a meeting? They ambush every new idea, item, or program that involves selling and criticize others who see it as positive. They manage to give a description of why something won’t sell rather than why it will sell.

I happen to think that automobile sales people are some of the best motivators when it comes to selling a product. No matter what specific model or equipment option a customer may be interested in; that salesperson is always positive and never says, “You better think about it,” or “The price is too high.”

I always respect salespeople with a confident selling attitude and never allow negativity to get in their way of capturing a sale. It’s like wearing a smile when it comes to wanting to make a sale rather than a frown for the inconvenience of having to work for it.

A produce director friend told me that he once had a produce manager that regularly expressed a pessimistic animosity towards every new program. He was referred to as Mr. Negative.

Do you have similar negatives in your produce operation? If so, those individuals need to be transformed before spreading their cynical habits onto others.

I can remember when we first introduced bagged grapes into our produce merchandising program. Certain cynical individuals tried to shoot it down saying it cost more and the grapes won’t hold up being bagged. Every excuse not to change was submitted.

After the program settled and produce managers got used to simply opening the cartons and placing the bagged grapes on display, they loved it. There was no need to handle each bunch and have grapes falling on the floor. Displays were always full, and our sales doubled.

One day, we ran short on bagged grapes in the warehouse and had to buy a few loose bunched on the market to fill orders. Believe it or not, I had a call from none other than one of the negative produce managers complaining that he received loose grapes. I responded to him by asking, “Weren’t you the one who was against handling bagged grapes?”

It goes to show that some people just seem to be stuck in a pessimistic behavior if it’s something they don’t like. It’s simply a fixation with them.

Do you have an individual in your organization who regularly complains about having to take on a new item or denounces a special promotional program? Does that person challenge you on anything that they feel may interrupt their long-established comfort and convenient routine?

The following are only some of the negative excuses I’ve heard:

  • It won’t sell in our store;
  • Our customers won’t buy it;
  • The retail is too high;
  • We tried it before and it didn’t sell;
  • The competition doesn’t handle it;
  • Let someone else try it first;
  • We shouldn’t take a chance on it;
  • Let’s think about it more;
  • I know it won’t sell.

One solution we used in order to reverse those dissenting attitudes was to invite other produce managers to send us their success stories on items they sold and how they accomplished it. We published those positive experiences and sent them out to all the produce employees. It was a motivating way of proving anything can be sold if you believe in it.

The success story approach works especially well with in-store produce seminar meetings. Gathering a group of produce managers together in a department always results in good conversation with one another.

The seminar is where we would let produce managers give their personal success story of how they doubled or tripled the sales of a specific item by building aggressive displays. Hearing the confidence of other colleagues positive sales experiences gradually helps turn around the skeptic individuals.

After several proud produce managers boast about their successes, it will motivate the entire group. Any attendee who may have entered the seminar with an antagonistic sales attitude will be transformed into a confirmed believer when departing.

Give this method a try. It can be a success story in itself for your own operation.

Ron Pelger is the owner of RonProCon, a produce industry advisory firm. He is also a produce industry merchandising director and a freelance writer. He can be contacted at 775-843-2394 or by e-mail at ronprocon@gmail.com.

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