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If I ask you to think about a typical salesperson, what is the first thing that pops into your head?
For many people out there it is something like this:
Or even worse, this:
Over the years the reputation of salespeople hasn’t really wavered all that much. And with vast amounts of product content available out there customers have voted with their digital feet, choosing to engage with a vendor or sales person when they are already 66%-90% of the ....
Guys and girls, that means they talk to us as a LAST resort!
The bigger question is why? And what can we do to fix it?
Starting with the why, I believe as a profession we shoot ourselves in the foot. The intrinsic motivator for so many salespeople out there is hitting/smashing/demolishing targets, and as a result the focus is primarily on our world and not that of the customer.
Even the terminology we've chosen to use serves as a warning to any potential client. Do you think customers enjoy being branded as ‘targets’, something to be aimed at, shot at, and hopefully ‘smashed’?
We have sales methodologies designed strategize, position, spin and challenge. If I put my customer hat on for a moment, it all seems awfully patronizing
And when they finally do pay for our services we have the hide to refer to them as an ‘account’ and even assign them a dedicated ‘Account Manager’. Wouldn’t clients prefer to work with someone who treasures the relationship, the partnership, collaboratively working towards a shared desirable business outcome?
Let’s leave the accounts to be managed by the accountants and the banks, and treat our client partners with the same respect as the partners who enrich our private lives.
It’s interesting to look at our language and terminology in this light. What part does it play in the way we approach our roles? From a NLP point of view is this something worth visiting?
So what can we do to fix it?
We need to really need to empathise with our clients, really aim to understand their needs, their wants, their desires and their fears.
We need to be ethical and only make recommendations when it’s ACTUALLY the right thing to do.
We need to be authentic, collaborative, honest and educational.
And this needs to happen before we even begin to think of selling.
It’s not all doom and gloom, and it’s really not that hard. In fact many salespeople embody these values every day. But it’s not enough. If we are to raise the perception and the integrity of sales as a profession we need to all do it together.