Salesperson or Consultant – Part 1

This is one of a series of blogs written specifically for those people in small businesses who are responsible for winning sales. These people will often have other roles and responsibilities which requires them to be very time-efficient during their selling activities. Larger businesses are likely to employ one or more full-time salespeople and this blog series is also written to help these people.

From the buying perspective, the old adage “people buy from people they like” is probably more true today than ever before. Buyers (and consumers) are very wary of being sold something they don’t want. They dislike the hard sell. They only want to deal with people with a good reputation and with people who they like.

If you are in sales, your ability to build long-term relationships is key. The underlying ingredient behind the development of trusting relationships between seller and buyer is the sales person’s integrity. As a salesperson, you have to start looking for ways to help your clients and prospective clients to address their problems / issues and put much less focus on securing a short-term sale.

It is surprisingly easy to position yourself as just a salesperson interested only in the next sale and the associated commission and it is one of the biggest barriers to being successful in sales. You must position yourself as someone who helps potential buyers to make the right decisions. Sometimes, your product/service isn’t the answer and you must have enough integrity to tell this to your prospect and help them find a more appropriate solution.

When you are engaging with a prospect, they are constantly evaluating your motives to see if your main interest is the commission on their purchase. There are many signs which prospects constantly look for as part of this evaluation.

Here are 15 of the signs (there may be more) that a prospect looks out for which are likely to lead to a lost sale:

  1. You give a sales pitch. You turn up for a meeting and launch into a presentation about your company, how long you’ve been trading, list of awards, number and location of offices. You go on to talk about your products and services, possibly mentioning a few generic benefits along the way.
  2. You send out standard emails or standard letters.
  3. You give standard presentations, using the same jokes that didn’t work last time.
  4. You try to pull the buyer along the buying cycle at a speed which suits you. You suddenly find that you are at the sales closure stage, when the buyer is still evaluating alternatives.
  5. You ask questions, but they are the same questions every other salesperson seems to ask. They don’t help you to understand the buyer’s position or give you an edge against competitor suppliers.
  6. You have done no research so have no idea what the buyer’s business is all about.
  7. You make exaggerated claims about your product / service which are not backed up with evidence.
  8. You use “hard”manipulative techniques based on the old A-B-C of selling (Always Be Closing).
  9. Your presentation and brochures are full of “I”, “we”, “my”, “our”. You leave your prospect to work out how your product/service will help solve their particular problems.
  10. You don’t address the specific concerns the buyer raises, instead you give long-winded vague responses.
  11. You don’t listen to the buyer and tend to respond to signs of sales resistance with statements beginning with “yes, but….”
  12. You are thinking more about the order and the commission than the buyer’s situation.
  13. You display signs of impatience and urgency.
  14. You do not make good eye contact with the buyer.
  15. You don’t know what makes your company different, compared to your competition.

If your prospect picks up any of these signs, your chances of winning the sale are reduced. Not every prospect will tell you directly, although they may give signs of their own. These might include a reluctance to meet or talk on the telephone, sluggish response to emails, no response to your voicemail messages and increased vagueness regarding when an order is likely to be placed.

Next time, I will look at the 10 habits that salespeople must develop to keep a prospect keen to do business with them, rather than with their competition.

Posted in Sales / Business Growth