The archetypal salesperson is a dinosaur. Whether the picture we have in our minds is Alec Baldwin’s character in “Glengarry Glen Ross” from 1992, Vin Diesel or Giovanni Ribisi in the 2000 movie “Boiler Room,” or just about any other film or TV show with salespeople. The easy stereotype to reinforce is that of an unethical con artist focused on making the sale no matter what it takes.
Unfortunately, there can be a kernel of truth to the stereotype, as headlines revealing scandals and unethical selling practices attest to. The mistrust of those in the selling profession has always been a challenge for salespeople, but now it is more elevated than ever. Simply put:
Buyers don’t want to buy from salespeople. They want to work with executives and consultants who understand their businesses. They don’t want a short-term fix; they want long-term solutions.
Today’s ultra-informed buyer is doing more research and due diligence ahead of time before ever contacting a salesperson. Sometimes, their research is not great research, but right or wrong, they’ve done their homework and think they know what’s what. Their preparation requires salespeople to come in as consultants if they want to be part of the decision-making process. Showing up with slick sales pitches won’t work anymore.
The cumulative impact of all these factors means that if a salesperson takes a shortcut, if there is even the appearance of impropriety, it impacts more than a single deal. » Continue Reading.
As my colleague, Henri, shared in the previous blog, building trust with customers is critical in today’s selling environment. Building and maintaining trust across the full lifespan of a customer relationship takes attention and focus in the following areas:
1. Prepare with the customer in mind.
If, when you prepare, you find yourself spending more time preparing your solution or positioning points than you spend thinking about your customer and their issues and challenges, then you need to rethink your preparation strategy. You should begin and end with your customer in mind. If you prepare for your meeting by thinking about what they might want to get out of your time together, then not only will you build trust, you will also create more value in the meeting.
2. Ask great questions, not bad ones.
There is no such thing as a bad question, right? Wrong. We’ve seen bad questions asked time and time again. A bad question is one you should already know the answer to if you have done just a little bit of homework. Not doing your homework and asking questions about something you should already know not only destroys your credibility, but it also signals to the customer that they aren’t worth your effort in being well prepared to meet with them. If, as your potential customer, I am not worth your preparation, then why would I trust you to act » Continue Reading.
Selling is a people-oriented business. Sales are made in the dialogue, person-to-person. The interaction may be face-to-face or over the phone, but the very essence of a successful outcome is based on trust between seller and buyer.
This means salespeople must be at their very best, bringing value to the table and to their customers. If, instead, they just push products, they sacrifice goodwill and trust. Their sales success is likely to be short-lived, not the basis of a long and mutually productive relationship.
Many articles have been written about the parade of scandals in the financial industry: overly aggressive sales goals leading to the unauthorized opening of accounts; funneling billions of wealthy customer accounts offshore; manipulating global interest rates; the whole subprime mortgage crisis. And such bad behavior extends beyond banking into other industries and the political environment, where instability and uncertainty are causing greater distrust among customers, who are increasingly wary of salespeople and selling tactics.
I recently read an article that called for a new business model, and while the writer was referring to the financial industry specifically, the advice applies more broadly. Companies need to focus more on advocating for their customers rather than exploiting customers to move more product. They need to make sure whoever is touching their customer — whether it’s someone in sales, service, or support — provides a uniform and positive customer experience. And while this should be needless to say, I’m » Continue Reading.
Social media is ubiquitous. Look at all the bowed heads and tapping fingers as people commune with their smartphones. It doesn’t matter if they’re walking down the street, in a business meeting, or sharing a meal with others, phones are always on and socially connecting. The Twitterverse has become part of the regular news cycle as politicians, and yes, the President, make it their go-to public communication channel.
But what does this mean for sales professionals in the business world? In my guest post on InsideSales.com, When and Why Sales Professionals Should Text Clients, I suggest that there is a time and place for texting within sales relationships, just as there are times when it is appropriate to communicate with clients by sending an email, making a phone call, or scheduling an in-person meeting.
In this post, I will address the broader topic of social media — not just whether to use it for business purposes, but how one’s personal postings can make a strong impression, good and bad, on their professional persona.
True or False: Social media is all about being authentic, expressing your personal views, and sharing imagery that exposes others to what is happening in your world. Salespeople should be able to freely post and tweet what they want.
Of course, salespeople can post what they want, where they want. That’s a right of free speech. The challenge, however, is understanding that social media opens up » Continue Reading.
Highly skilled and engaged sales forces drive revenue. But, it is a challenge to get a multi-generational, global sales team operating at peak performance.
On March 7th, 2017 at 2 pm EST Chris Tiné, Richardson’s Chief Product Officer, industry expert Mike Kunkle, and Sales & Marketing Management Magazine will present a webinar on, “Galvanizing a Multi-generational Sales Force to Drive Revenue.” If you are interested in attending or think that your colleagues may be interested, you can register here.