I spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that so many people seem to have a ‘downer’ on my chosen profession. I am extremely proud of what I do, and the living I have made for my self and my family. And not least, the results I have provided for my clients. But it still seems the case that sales people are universally derided if not outright vilified as untrustworthy and in some way ‘dodgy’. At least in the UK. I’ve mentioned before that ‘selling’ in the USA is regarded as an aspiration career, with a high regard for the skills required.
The case for the prosecution
Maybe I’m being a bit naive, and this perception is based more on people’s experience in dealing with ‘sellers’ than I’d like to admit. I know many rational and right thinking people who have this negative opinion and they can’t all be wrong. Horror stories abound, from mis sold insurance and the infamous ‘erroneous transfer’ of your utilities to the ‘clocking’ of second-hand cars and the archetypal high pressure window salesmen, it seems there is plenty of evidence to support this negative perception.
But I’m not like that. I have never ‘ripped’ anyone off, and I don’t intend to start anytime soon! And it’s not just me. There are many people I have worked with over the years that are of a similar mind set to me, and have approached selling in the same way. Maybe we are in the minority, but maybe its time to stand up and shout about it. Maybe its time to spread the word about us, we are ‘authentic’ sellers and we are proud of the way we go about our business!
Do you know what? It’s never been more important to sell this way either.
No one can sell anything anymore – People just buy
Its been regularly discussed in marketing circles that ‘interruption’ selling is dead and ‘permission’ marketing is the only way forward. ‘Hit and Run’ promotions, where a ‘red hot deal’ or ‘not to be missed sale’ influences the purchase are becoming harder to sustain and less believable. Customers are desensitised to the effect of ‘blaring’ adverts and pushy sales people trying to close them down.
In todays social media dominated world of Facebook and Twitter, it’s harder than ever to directly influence the customer in isolation. You’re unlikely to be the only source of information for your prospective client, and the chances are, by the time they are talking to you they will have researched the best product and the keenest prices as well as having checked endless peer reviews. Reviews of what you are selling and your business and its reputation. In fact, exactly what people think of you and the company you are working for.
It’s brutal out there! You cannot escape the microscope of the internet. Every bad review, every bad customer experience, every deal gone bad. It seems like every time anything goes against the customer it’s published and shared and stored forever, waiting only for the next prospective client to check it out before even beginning to think of talking to you.
There’s only one thing for it
This is where what I’m talking about – AUTHENTIC SELLING – comes into its own. It’s not a new idea by any means, but more people need to practice it. More people need to realise that not only will your clients respect you and your product more than ever before, YOU will feel better about what you do, and the reason you are doing it.
So how do you sell authentically? Easy!
1. Be yourself. No act, no false personalities. Positive Mental Attitude was never a good idea, and these days you’ll come across as some sort of weirdo. Be yourself, your normal every day self.
2. But be professional. Do what you say you will do. Turn up on time for appointments. Don’t be either too familiar, or too cool. If the client is a ‘jokey’ type, then share a laugh maybe. Or if they are more even-tempered, don’t try to force things and get too upbeat, or descend into the clients moroseness if thats the way they play it. You’re there to do a job, nothing more.
3. They are not your friends. They have friends. You have friends. Don’t insult yours or theirs by blurring the lines. Be friendly by all means, but remember point 2
4. Be open. If a client points out that you are wrong about something, consider the possibility that they are right! Accept it, and the lesson you have just learned with good grace.
5. Don’t lie. Don’t make things up. Don’t stretch the truth or make unsubstantiable claims. EVER. If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Tell them you don’t know. And tell them you’ll find out.
6. Fix their problems. Nothing else. Your product or service does ‘something’ right? If it’s not needed, or it would be superfluous, surplus to requirements as it were, don’t sell it. They’ll respect you more, and buy from you later on, when they really do need what you’re selling.
7. Be upfront. See a problem? point it out. Don’t let the client come across it later in the pitch, when its harder for you to explain yourself.
8. Be proud of what you do, and what you sell. Ask for what you are worth and what your product is worth. If you are able to negotiate, take fierce pride in negotiating the best rates on your sales team. You are, after all, worth every penny.
9. Follow up. Make sure they know how to use what they’ve bought. Make sure what you sold is doing its job. Make sure it still works, months later. Make sure your relationship with the client goes beyond the sale.
10. Enjoy it! You are making money, you are helping people with their problems. Even if it’s in some small way, you are doing a good thing by doing your job, and doing it well.
Whats the alternative?
The only other choice is to fail and then give it up. You won’t last, you won’t enjoy it, and you won’t be successful. So why bother? Our customers have never been more sophisticated. Never been more informed, and have never had as much power. These are undeniably good things. If you can’t stand the heat of the way things are these days, best get out while you can.
Leave it to those of us that want to do it right. Leave it to those that take our jobs and our careers seriously. Leave it to us, the authentic sales people.
What do you think?
Leave a comment below if you think I am right, or you think I’m talking nonsense! I’d love to hear from you.