It was an early morning meeting chaired by the SVP. There wasn’t any reason to anticipate fireworks this particular day so the atmosphere was, to say the least, rather relaxed. A sales manager was the last to arrive, whispering to the person next to him as he sat down, “All I want to do is sell.”
The meaning was clear. He viewed meetings and all other “non-selling” tasks as unnecessary interruptions keeping him away from the job of selling. His meeting intolerance was palpable, announcing at the start that he would be leaving early for an appointment.
Taking a strong stand against all the ‘stuff’ that interferes with ‘making sales’ may seem long overdue to many in the business.
See our infographic: How to sell insurance as an independent agent
But before getting too excited, the “all I want to do is sell” message cuts another way. Although the results are anything but new, the Gallup organization’s 2013 “Honesty/Ethics in the Professions” survey puts the so-called ‘persuasive professions’ at or near the bottom of the trust scale, including salespeople, lawyers, Members of Congress, business executives and lobbyists.
It’s ironic that the greater the emphasis on “making the sale,” whether of a product or an idea, the more customers pull back mentally, physically or both. No one wants to be cornered and made to feel inadequate and manipulated. When that happens, some customers run, while others cave in and buy what they don’t want or understand. Later, they’re angry, not just at the salesperson, but at themselves for not saying no.
See also: The 2014 100 best sales & marketing ideas
It doesn’t need to be this way. For salespeople who want to stand out from the crowd, here are four actions that will put them where they belong — high on the trust scale.
1. Manage the selling process instead of trying to control it.
What drives customers crazy — and away — is a feeling of impotence when faced with someone who is skilled at taking control. Until recently, customers couldn’t do much about it. Now, they view themselves as better informed (sometimes more than they are) and refuse to be passive.
Now that control has passed to customers, savvy salespeople have a unique opportunity to manage the sales process. This is a game changer and the opportunity to win customers by:
1. Asking questions that engage the customer
2. Listening intently and reflecting back to clearly understand customer issues
3. Encouraging feedback when offering choices
4. Clarifying objections for gaining insight into what a customer is thinking.