Ah, comfort zones. The bane of the B2B salesperson. I believe that the loss of productivity and sales effectiveness caused by the limitations of comfort zones is so widespread that it could be the number one problem for salespeople.
What’s a comfort zone? Since we are talking about salespeople here, it’s some aspect of the salesperson’s job with which he/she is overcomes sales nerves.
Salespeople create comfort zones composed of customers, or types of customers, as well. For example, you may be comfortable calling on production managers, and very uncomfortable calling on CFOs.
And then there are products and services which inhabit their own comfort zones. Salespeople may be comfortable with one product or product line to the point where they ignore opportunities for others.
And, finally, salespeople form comfort zones associated with the processes and tools that they use. For example, you may be very comfortable using a paper calendar, and not at all comfortable using a laptop and the company’s new CRM system.
There is nothing wrong with comfort zones, per se. They are just the job-related expression of human nature. Naturally we tend to be more comfortable with certain people, places, and things than others. That comfort comes from a combination of our unique skills intertwined with our experiences. The combination of those two things leads us to a position: This person, or market, or product, or process feels more comfortable to us than another one.
The problem is the converse of comfort zones – ‘uncomfort’ zones. The problem isn’t that you are comfortable with some element of your job; it is that you are uncomfortable with others. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable calling on schools, for example. The problem comes when you are uncomfortable calling on businesses. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable calling on production managers. The problem comes when you are uncomfortable calling on CFOs.
And, it’s not so much the lack of comfort that is the problem. It is the fact that the uncomfortable feeling leads to a conscious avoidance of the uncomfortable and that, then, leads to a lack of action. And the lack of action is the problem.