The Bad Perception of Salespeople

In a recent workshop I facilitated I openly asked the business people in the room what they thought of salespeople. Now, mind you, most of the people in the room were business owners or employees all of which had a major role of growing their respective businesses. Here are some of the things I heard. “They lie.” “They’ll do anything to get the sale.” “All they care about is their own commission.” “They are irritating.” “I feel like I need to take a shower with antibiotic body wash after I deal with one” (actually, I made the last one up myself).

I realize there are some bad salespeople out there. Just like there are bad lawyers, doctors and engineers. But if you have similar thoughts about sales people and you are dealing with prospects and customers on a daily basis how do you think these negative perceptions are impacting your behavior? You can be sure it is not in a positive and productive way.

Realizing that many of your prospects may have similar perceptions how can you overcome this and increase the probability of them doing business with you? One thing you need to keep in mind is that people will not do business with you unless they like you and trust you. That is imperative. So what should you do? Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when approaching your prospects.

• You are a problem solver. You are there to help them. Whether they buy from you or not you should be trying to help them.

• Since you are a problem solver you need to know what the problem is. Don’t assume you know what it is. You need to ask the prospect. Do not have preconceived notions of what they need. You’d be surprised at what might be motivating their buying decisions.

Do not sell benefits and features. You may be overloading them with information. Stick to their problem and only offer information when it is solicited.

• Build rapport with your prospect. This will start to develop your relationship with them. Be sincere about this. This is not a game. You truly want to find out what their problems are so you can help them. 

• Be sure you have extensive knowledge of your product or service. Sometimes you may take this for granted. Know your stuff!

• Be candid and honest. If you can’t solve their problem say so. And if there is someone else that would be better for them to talk to, other than yourself, make that recommendation.

• Be professional and courteous. Be on time for meetings and follow up in a timely manner. This shows your prospects you have respect for them.

In this high tech environment we all live in, people get bombarded with emails, websites, electronic brochures, you name it. However, you can’t have a relationship with a web site. This is where you come in. Having a one on one conversation is something you can do that all those other things can’t. When having these conversations and building these relationships you should be striving on delivering real value to your customer. This value, of course, is from their perspective not yours.  Understand what they value, what they need, and deliver your solution.  By striving to make each and every one of your customers better off for having done business with you, you will have created a win-win situation. 

Now, I ask you, if you did all of this how can anyone have all those bad perceptions about salespeople?