This was a question that was recently asked on LinkedIn that I felt compelled to answer.
What are the characteristics (perceptible and imperceptible) that you look for in a sales person? What keeps you coming back to him / her more often?
I’m a sales professional (trying to gain perspective on consumer buying behavior) — really trying hard to overcome my shortcomings. As a background I’ve been into consultative sales of e-Learning (products / services) and managed offshore services in the IT Industry for approx. 4 years.
I would look forward with great expectation to receiving your brilliant, insightful and enlightening sales experiences. As I mentioned I have certain shortcomings — and most certainly, your experience will offer me a line of attack to improve on those limitations.
I won’t come back to a sales person. I hate sales people. I can sniff a salesperson from a mile away, and I have a bullshit detector like no other. I _HATE_ sales people. Well, mostly. My wife is in sales. At home, she’ll start telling me about all of the ways it would be so wonderful if we went to HER parents house for the holidays, and I carefully and skillfully shut her down every time.
However, I’m very much interested in working with someone who can help me solve my problem. I don’t want to be sold something, and I’m intelligent enough to know that I’m being sold to. I’m not susceptible to charisma and charm, and I’m skeptical and untrusting. If you can get a person like ME to buy something you’re selling, you’re very good.
- Build a relationship. A relationship requires trust. Trust requires a genuine interest in a person. That’s not going to happen overnight. Sit down, shut up, and listen to their problem. If you have something that suits them, great. If not, keep in touch. Maybe you’ll be able to solve their problem in the future.
- “Do, or do not. There is no try.” (Yoda) Either you really are genuinely interested in helping me solve my problem, or you’re not. Faking it = bullshit, and I can detect it a mile away. Don’t TRY to be genuinely interested — BE genuinely interested.
- Put MY best interests ahead of YOUR best interests. Even if you have commission, or even your job tied to a sale, putting your interests before mine will lose you the deal. If you put MY interests before YOURS, even if it doesn’t result in a sale, is okay. I’ll remember you in the future, and I’ll remember how cool you were about putting my interests first, and I’ll be calling you as soon as I have something you can help me with.
- Create “raving fans”. Go the extra mile or ten. Go completely out of your way to ensure that your customer has the best experience in existence, and you can earn my respect. I would also recommend the book “Raving Fans” for ideas.
- Here’s a personal nitpick: learn to avoid your “uhh’s” and “umm’s” when you speak. “You know” and “actually” are also common filler words. Take a class if you have to. Trust me when I say that prolonged silence (within reason) is better than filling the silence with filler noises.
Just about the ONLY person in a sales role that I’ve ever even liked is Tim Alston. He is the only sales person (besides my wife) that I’m not absolutely disgusted with. As a matter of fact, I would probably have his babies if I could. With as skeptical and cynical and untrusting as I am, Tim completely won me over. Read the recommendations he’s received to get a feel for the kind of customer-centric attitude he has and how he’s gained the loyalty and respect of many people.