Attitude and perspective
The daily challenges we face often provide us with opportunities for improvement, although these opportunities might not give us the instant gratification we desire. The same happens in sales – the customers we approach, the situations we attract, the achievements and failures we live through; they all can be seen as a punishment or as a blessing. It is a matter of attitude and perspective. Whining or learning? Experimenting or competing? Sharing or protecting? The choice is ours!
“Nothing happens until someone sells something.” If you are in sales, you have heard this famous quote, attributed to a number of people, including Henry Ford, Arthur “Red” Motley, Peter Drucker, and others. And it is true – even if the owner of a company is the ultimate salesman, for a business to exist and prosper there must be a need for its products or services, and continuous engagement with the buyers. Though nowadays, the meaning of “something to happen” entails much more than just selling! It entails genuine care, knowledge, engagement, customer delight, and building a trustworthy relationship. How can we cover all these aspects of a sales process to make a company successful? By having the right salespeople.
Genuine care and coherence
Have you been pestered by the infamous sales representatives? People who know very little about you and your business but use manipulative and premeditated tactics when they approach you? Have you felt pressured, chased, and pushed? Most likely, yes. Aggressive and intrusive behavior is, unfortunately, something that puts, quite often, a negative connotation to the art of selling. The whole situation would be much different if there was a genuine care for the customer by sales representatives and company alike. Due to overuse and lack of actual commitment, statements such as “customer focus” and “customer satisfaction” have lost significance in the minds and hearts of buyers. The sales atmosphere is much different when there is coherence between intentions, promises, and actions.
Jeffrey Gitomer says: “People don’t like to be sold – but they love to buy.” That’s true! A real salesperson supports a customer in the buying process by focusing on meaningful outcomes. Moreover, the real salesperson aligns the intentions, promises, and actions when engaging with a customer, as they are after the long-term relationship, the future referrals, and the joint business growth initiatives, opposed to the one-time sale. This is easy to be said but it’s not that easy to accomplish. There must be an intrinsic coherence or at least strive for such in the attitude of sales of the salesperson.
How to be “best”?
Becoming “the best” is a life-long journey on the path of commitment to excellence. A commitment to the continuous improvement of and honesty towards yourself. A commitment to understanding what is the driving force behind your decisions and to what extent does it determine your behavior. And that applies to every aspect of life. When working with people and particularly when you are working in sales, the big difference between being “average” and being “the best” is the coherence between the alignment of your thoughts, words, and actions.
- If you are in it for money – fair enough. Claim so. Do so.
- If you are in it to be of help – fair enough. Claim so. Do so.
- If you are in it to grow and evolve together with the customer – fair enough. Claim so. Do so.
There are plenty of people in sales who assert ambitious claims, promise unattainable goals, rarely listen to what you actually need, and would push for any solution that would get them a commission. These individuals form temporary relationships. They see you like a number and your business as a target for their quarterly review. You feel betrayed! You feel as if your business is just a transaction to them. Next time, when another salesperson approaches you, you react instinctively and the unpleasant memory comes to mind. It is a natural reaction but not a profitable solution. The famous scientist, Carl Sagan, has said: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. What if we compared the attitudes and actions of that salesperson to the claims he or she is making? In this way, we can dynamically evaluate the progress of the relationship.
The best salespeople have the following qualities and attitudes:
- Prepared. Not only in terms of the product and the company! Preparation is required on customer, industry, attitude, and interaction levels. Why should someone dedicate an hour of their life to meet you? Answering this question with honesty is a good start. Genuine curiosity is required for continuous learning in all aspects of life. And all aspects of sales.
- Active listener. Being able to keep quiet and listen is paramount to becoming great in sales. Knowing how to listen with an intention to understand and looking from the perspective of the customer constitutes 80% of a deal. Nevertheless, the opposite appears to be true in real life – many salespeople go to customers with pumped egos, never listening but talking and having an attitude of “I know it all, let me help you”.
- Accountable. This goes beyond the responsibility for delivering what you have promised. Accountability implies taking risks when it comes to making decisions and generating outcomes. You are ultimately accountable for the end results! When the job gets tough, and it always does, at a certain point in the relationship, you need a sales partner who will be there for you.
- Coherent. Everything is fine as long as you practice what you preach. When there is no alignment between what you think, speak and do, the element of frustration invoked in people is inevitable. When a salesperson says they are after your success and they are only after your money, sooner or later you realize their intention. It is about making or breaking relationships.
The everlasting remnant
Actions are a matter of choice and they are stronger than words. Deeds and outcomes endue the passage of time. When you have been coherent in your professional attitude over time, your image reflects the seeds you have been planting and nurturing. When a salesperson has a true commitment to being coherent, no matter the challenges and setbacks, they continue to “walk” their “talk”. And this is what differentiates a top sales representative from the rest.
Customers are better informed and more knowledgeable nowadays. And they expect to be genuinely guided, not manipulated, towards making optimal business decisions. The salesperson who understands the new rules will be truly successful in the new reality. Only through a continuously coherent experience, a customer delight can be achieved and a salesperson can earn a trustworthy long-term relationship.