Recently, I posed a question on Twitter: "What comes to mind when I say, 'salesperson.'" What came back probably won't surprise you...here's a sampling...
- Likely to be incompetent
- Working an angle not in my best interest
It's fruitless to make excuses for other people's misbehavior. Instead, it's better to focus on improving your own reputation (and the reputation of the people you manage). Here are a few ideas.
- Never make a claim that can't be backed up with facts.
This is also known by its more technical name, "lying." And liars get caught. Making a claim that you can prove (or better yet, a third party can verify) builds trust. Anything you say can be checked at the speed of Google.
- Only ask for referrals after earning the right.
It's awfully appealing to ask every warm body you come across for the names of other people who might want what you're selling. But you're much better off waiting until you've proven your value. People are a lot more willing to share your story after they've experienced it.
- Remain in alignment with your prospect: People buy for their reasons not yours.
I'm definitely not the first person to say, "Listen your way into a sale." But that's because it's always been true! Pay attention to what your prospect says and you'll be able to identify what - and how - they want to buy. That means you should only offer a recommendation if it will really help your prospect. Don't be in the business of jamming your most profitable offering down a prospect's throat unless it will be of genuine use.
- When a salesperson and a prospect get locked in a war of wills, the salesperson will lose.
Your success is determined by the person who decides whether to buy from you. They're in the "driver's seat." Be truthful and respectful. If you sense that a prospect is beginning to become defensive, it might be time to back down and gain an understanding of their perspective before becoming angry.
- Manipulative tactics do nothing but harm reputations (including mine).
Thankfully the millions of manipulative closes are on the wane. But there are still salespeople who try to manipulate their way into a sale. Most of today's buyers are smart enough to see them coming. When you try them, it's easy to put a knick in the reputation of all salespeople.
The bottom line? We've all got to work hard to continue the momentum in our effort to elevate the reputation of the sales profession. Hope you'll join me...
Jeb Brooks is Executive Vice President of the The Brooks Group, one of the world's Top Ten Sales Training Firms as ranked by Selling Power Magazine. He is a sought-after commentator on sales and sales management issues, having appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. Jeb authored the second edition of the book "Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call" and writes for The Brooks Group's popular Sales Blog . He can be reached at + 1 (336) 282-6303