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The Telephone Doctor: Are you passive, average or proactive?

National Mortgage Professional
Mar 24, 2014

The Telephone Doctor: Are you passive, average or proactive?Nancy FriedmanSales tips

Take the Telephone Doctor's one-minute quiz and find out. Read the scenario below and ask yourself, "Which sales type am I?"

Either on the phone or in person, a customer says, "Tell you what .. I've decided not to take the Blue Widget."

†The passive person answers "OK"--The customer feels nothing.
†The average person answers "You sure?"--The customer feels slighted.
†The proactive person answers "Wow, it's really a great Widget and there's a Widget-maker that goes with it for not a lot more money. Why not keep it? You'll love it."--The customer feels great and buys the Widget and the Widget-maker.

See the difference? Now, which one are you?

To excel in sales, do you need to be passive, average or proactive? And if you're one of these types (passive, average or proactive), which is the best to be? These are all good questions. Let's determine which is best and why.

The Telephone Doctor's definition of passive is "someone who accepts information and does nothing with it." Here's what the dictionary says: "Receiving or subjected to an action without responding or initiating an action in return; the mind viewed as a passive receptacle for sensory experience." My definition is just simpler!

Passive does not mean a person is bad or shouldn't be in sales. It simply means he is passive, not active. Are there passive salespeople? Of course there are. The thing about being passive is that most people don't like to be called that. Passive individuals receive information and do nothing with it. It happens all the time. You go into the grocery store and hand the cashier your check, which has your name on it. Sometimes, the cashier asks you for identification. And then he does whatever it is he needs to do, hands you back your ID, and says, "Thank you." No other words are exchanged. Even though the cashier had your name, it was never used. This person is passive. Passive individuals receive information and do nothing with it. The cashier had your name twice--once on the check and once on the ID. But again, it's not a bad thing. From my experience, those that are in the passive mode and put into sales are, in truth, uncomfortable. Not bad, just uncomfortable. They're not at ease telling others what is best for them. So if you have passive individuals on your sales team, talk with them; be sure they're happy. Be sure they're comfortable in their job. My bet is that they're probably not quite there yet.

It's a fact that it is easier to get an average person to be proactive than it is to get a passive person up to average. It just is. Let's see what the dictionary says about average: "Medium, mediocre, fair, middling, indifferent, tolerable."

Fact--there is a mass of average folks out there ... millions of them. I don't want to be one of them. I'm not sure about you, but I made a decision a long time ago that I didn't want to be average. I didn't want to be in the mass of mediocrity. Again, average folks aren't bad. They're fine, upstanding citizens. But they're average--like a lot of people. And they don't stand out to be remembered. If you're in sales, you want to be remembered. Average individuals receive information and honestly try to do something with what they receive. It's just that they don't seem to be able to get over the hurdle. Average folks say a lot of things like "Wow" and "Gee, that's so interesting." Telephone Doctor calls those "agreement statements," used when they really don't know what to say. So you see, they're not bad--just not effective.

I'm not sure about you, but those words that define average are nothing I'd like to be called. Yet, day after day, millions of people--including salespeople--go about their business being average. And yes, average people make sales. They do. And sometimes they even fall into a large order. In truth, it's usually not something that they're responsible for doing. The sale just fell into their laps. Average people go about their business being sort of happy with themselves when they could be so much more. It's sad. I know some average folks I'd love to take under my wing to help them be slightly more proactive.

Proactive Ah yes--it's the proactive people in this world that make things happen. They find the sales. They are detectives. They ask more questions, look a little deeper and always double check to be sure. Very few proactive people take no as an acceptable--or a final--answer. Proactive individuals are exceptional. They are naturally inquisitive. They know it can be done. Proactive people love sales. They eat, sleep and drink sales. They love to talk sales, think sales and do sales. The sale is never boring to a proactive person. A proactive salesperson isn't necessarily a workaholic. They enjoy vacations and can even relax on them. But back at work, they have the ability to turn on. Normally upbeat and happy, proactive salespeople seldom wallow in negativity or self-pity. They're somehow able to turn that negative into a positive. Proactive people find a way to get it done. They know it can be done. They make one more call, research a little more thoroughly, answer one more question, write up one more sale and never run out of questions to ask. Proactive people think for their clients. They have solutions. They enjoy solving problems for clients. They enjoy success.

So again, I ask, which one are you?

Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St. Louis. For more information, call (314) 291-1012 or visit

Mar 24, 2014