I’ve been in sales for a long time, so much so that I believe we are all in sales; I’ve written a previous blog about that. I love sales probably because as a consumer I love buying! I love a great sale, when the salesperson really listens to what you want and wows you with their level of attentiveness and personalised service.
I detest bad sales.
And unfortunately, over the years, more of us experience bad sales than good sales. So it’s no surprise that so many consumers view salespeople as possessing some very unsavoury characteristics. Most of us see sales people as pushy, privacy-invaders, cold callers, or those who will go to any lengths to close the sale.
Companies seek to attract and retain people who are ‘hungry’ for the sale, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurial. These are not bad characteristics – I admire them in people – and when combined with someone who is an excellent listener, make for amazing sales potential.
Unfortunately, whilst sales techniques have developed over the years, they perhaps haven’t changed and developed as much as the consumer base has.
The average consumer today is more informed than ever before and has more choice than they’ve ever had. Whilst a good sales person needs to exude confidence about their product and display excellent product knowledge, this alone won’t give them the edge.
We consumers no longer rely on the sales person to impart knowledge; we’ve probably “Googled” our research before we even enter into a conversation with the salesperson. We’re not only more informed about the products and services we buy, we’re also more informed about sales. We know the techniques. We’ve all been sold to for years.
As a result, the old style sales techniques don’t necessarily work anymore. When you consider it, what exactly is “managing an objection” other than getting a consumer to buy the product or service?
There’s nothing wrong with that intrinsically, but if you believe in ethical selling (which I personally am very passionate about), then you only actually want your customer to buy something that they either want or need right now. To do otherwise, to sell them something they don’t really want or need, is not customer focused; which is dangerous as businesses only exist with customers.
So what is it exactly that a salesperson is doing? Faced with an informed consumer with immense choice, the sales conversation is actually about persuading the customer to choose them over the competition.
The sales conversation is no longer about why the product, it’s about why the company.
And if the sales person is selling the company, that sales person has to be a true advocate of the company they work for. They have to be really engaged, inspired and believe in the company they work for. And when you are an advocate for the company you work for, when you love the products you sell, when you’re passionate about why you sell and when you care about the customers you sell to, then you’re not really selling anymore.
You’re sharing, with passion, humour, and tenacity.
It’s not about getting a customer to buy a product to achieve a bonus or incentive scheme; the driver is an intrinsic desire to see the company you work for succeed.
So if you are a consumer – next time you are buying something, ask yourself whether the salesperson is selling you “why the company” or “why the product”. Do they sound like they believe in their company and are an excited advocate for whom they work?
If you’re a salesperson – is this what you believe?
If you’re a sales company, is this what you are attracting and training?
Image credit: Olu Eletu | stocksnap.io