[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGJdNPiWZzQ&w=420&h=315]

I came across this very funny video today and was immediately reminded of what many people think sales people are like, unfortunately! And interestingly, it does relate to a question I am asked by every new sales person I have ever trained – ‘Am I pushing too hard?’ or ‘I don’t want to call again so soon’ or ‘when would be the best time to go back to the client’ or words to that effect. I think its ingrained in us in the UK to actively avoid becoming like this archetypal ‘seller’ or badger, as is portrayed in this video.

Ask and you get. Don’t and you won’t. 

Its funny though, because all sales people do need a little of the badger about them! I guess the question really is, how much? it’s quite simple, just ask the question. ask and you get, and don’t and you won’t. You may need to encourage, cajole or even persuade, but don’t nag, don’t bother, and don’t chip, chip, chip away! It’s just annoying. If you have answered a clients brief, and potentially solved their problem, there is nothing wrong with asking for the order. A simple and polite request to buy. That’s all it takes. Assertive, by all means, but not aggressive.

We are all askers or guessers

I remember reading, a few years ago now, about this principle. It seems we are all either psychologically disposed towards actually asking questions of the people we need information from, or actually guessing what this information might be. Both can be useful skills it transpires. But I think the ‘asker’ has the edge.

The ‘asker’ has no hesitation in asking a client to buy, a prospective romantic interest to dinner, a teacher a clarifying question, a shop keeper for a refund or whatever. Because they do not know the answer, or they need to advance their position in some way, they ask. There is no judgement assumed or feared. They associate nothing with the request they are making other than the search for information.

The ‘guesser’ on the other hand is adept at using their judgment and experience to estimate what the likely outcome of such gambits might be. They will think about the situation they are about to encounter and mentally rehearse what will happen. A ‘guesser’ will have entire conversations in their own mind, in a fraction of a second, and decide on whether they will progress the situation or not, based on what their intelligence tells them. So they may never ask that person out on a date, afraid they may be ridiculed, or not want to bother the teacher after the lesson, as they most likely have lots of more important things to do.

To assume makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’

I love this little truism! it’s so much the case. As ‘guessers’ all over the world have found, if you assume the answer to a question, there is always the danger that you will be missing a piece of data. A vital piece of data that you need in order to have the full picture and use those ‘guessing’ skills of yours. That results in a ‘misdiagnosis’ if you like. A perfectly valid conclusion, given the data you have to hand, but made redundant by the very fact that the analysis is flawed from the start.

This is a huge danger for experienced sales people too. Having met so many clients, in so many similar businesses over the years, they become expert in the likely requirements of that type of person or indeed that type of industry. After all, 90% of the time, that’s what this type of client usually wants.

‘I know these guys’ they think, ‘they will never pay for that’. ‘She’ll think that’s way too expensive’. ‘He’ll never understand that even though we are more expensive, our product will save him money in the long run’. ‘She won’t like it’. ‘He won’t buy it’. ‘It’s too expensive’. Etcetera etcetera.

These are all the sorts of things I have heard from professional sales people, in response to maybe having a new product for sale, or being asked to take a new product to an existing client. Bear in mind, all these conclusions are arrived at before the sales person has even been to see the client!

It’s such a dangerous game to play. And you need to try to catch yourself before falling into this trap.

By all means use your judgement and experience to try to understand the clients likely position, inform yourself and your sales effort. But don’t make the client’s mind up for them. its simply not your place to do it.

It’s about balance

You need to be an asker yes, but not a ‘badger’. You need to ‘guess’ or estimate what the clients likely response will be in order to put together a compelling sales argument. You need to mentally rehearse your conversations with your clients in order to give yourself plenty of confidence. But never ever make your client’s mind up for them.

Sell the client for their own good

Ultimately, if you know what you are doing, you have integrity and are authentic, then you will most likely be offering the client a solution to a problem or something that will make their jobs easier or make their business money. If that’s the case there is nothing wrong with being assertive. Sure of yourself and your product and indeed your price. So sure in fact there is no need to nag! Or badger, as in the case of the video above.

In fact there is a lot to be said for taking this stance. ‘I’ve done my bit’, you might say. ‘I’ve finished selling. I’ve assessed your needs and requirements and come up with a bespoke product or solution perfectly designed to provide you with what you have told me you need. I’ve come in under your budget, or at least I can demonstrate why I can’t come in under your budget and why I still represent great value. Simply put, I’ve finished selling. Now its time for you to buy!’

We are all working to dead lines

A great way to ‘close’ a client without badgering them, is to set a dead line, and then stick to it.There is no point in telling a client that the price you have quoted is only available until the end of the week, if you then offer them the same deal the following Monday. ‘No one ever adheres to dead lines in my business’ you might think. But that’s because you have never tried maybe?

It’s all about being authentic after all. Set them a deadline and don’t offer any unreasonable extensions. You’ll soon become known as someone who means what they say. You’ll become someone who your clients respect and listen to. Someone that can close a client without any of the nonsense represented in the video above, or any of the archetypal and unflatteringly stereotypical images of sales people that most people appear to have.

You’ll be a professional sales person. And someone your clients will love to do business with.