Insidious. Debilitating. Profit stunting. That's apathy. It can arise from within and without. What do you do if apathy creeps in and makes it seem like picking up the phone to call a prospect would take more energy than you can muster, when a co-worker spends far too much time sighing and looking out the window, or when a prospect you're eager to meet says in a resigned tone that there's simply no point in getting together.
In Good Selling!TM: The Basics, Paul H. Green offered this quote about apathy from Horace Greeley: "Apathy is a sort of living oblivion." Thinking about it that way, it makes sense to do all you can whenever you can to lift yourself, your colleagues and your merchants out of apathy when it hovers, threatening to engulf someone's dreams.
Luckily for you, if you're in sales, apathy is not your usual emotional state. You have personality traits that typically don't allow it to take hold. If, however, you feel yourself begin to wallow, there are actions you can take.
In "10 ways to snap out of apathy," posted on LiveBoldandBloom.com, Barrie Davenport emphasized that apathy is not an emotion to disregard and listed signs that signal apathy is taking hold, along with ways to address it. Among her recommendations are to remember that apathy is a temporary state and does not define you; endeavor to identify the trigger or cause for your apathy; change what you can to improve your situation; create small disturbances in your schedule to shake things up; and spend maximum time with folks who make you feel energized.
When a usually optimistic colleague exhibits signs of encroaching apathy, there are several things you could do. For example, you could initiate a friendly conversation in which you share happy memories and victories; hold brainstorming sessions about how to meet work challenges in new ways; share a truly funny joke; invite the colleague to go for short walks during breaks and, if you belong to a gym, come along for a workout; if you know the person well enough, ask if something has happened recently that is troubling him or her; or suggest speaking with a therapist if the apathy persists.
When a merchant expresses apathy, Green recommended keeping the conversation going so you can find out why the person doesn't want to engage with you. If you succeed, you might find the merchant isn't apathetic after all. "Does this person actually have an opinion of your service, negative or positive?" Green wrote. "If the answer to the question is yes, then apathy is not your problem. If the prospect has taken the time to form an opinion, it means there is room for you to prove yourself and change his/her mind."
And not to worry if the merchant is, indeed, on the apathetic side. You might be able to snap an individual out of it by making yourself stand out from the crowd of sales professionals vying for attention. "Ask yourself, 'How can I make this merchant's job easier? How can I make daily activities more profitable?' Then show the merchant how," Green said.
With smarts, sensitivity and persistence, you can drive apathy away ‒ no matter what its source might be.
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