Having analyzed mistakes in receiving and listening to customers, the time has come to address the moment when we present the offer. The aim of this phase is to generate the customers’ interest, focusing their attention not only on the material aspects and on price, but also on the value of the entire offer system that will contribute to satisfying their needs. The moment when we present the offer can be delicate and it’s all too easy to make a mistake, in fact we have gathered a range of cases that involve nightmare salespeople whose behavior undermines the successful outcome of even the most tempting offer, forcing customers to decide against a purchase which they had already chosen to make.
Over-the-top or pushy
There is a whole category of nightmare salespeople convinced that, rather than risk not saying enough, it is better to add a bit more when they present the offer. During a course we once came across a salesperson selling web services who reads out all the clauses of the contract before even explaining what he can offer his customers. Basically, he starts by setting out the rules for a relationship whose benefits he has yet to describe! When we suggested he should reflect on whether ‘it would be to start by illustrating what services you provide?’ our pushy salesperson explained that in his view it was ‘better to make things clear at the outset to avoid arguments later’. A rather worrying viewpoint that will most likely put the keenest customer off making a purchase. This is the point: quite often salespeople themselves are so concerned about possible objections that they actually anticipate them or believe it is better to overwhelm the customer with technical details, so they will be too bewildered to object.
In addition to those sellers who are so insecure that they then become insistent, there is another category of nightmare salespeople ready to push back the boundaries of reality by inventing non-existent benefits. Our town has a salesperson who’d sell you two shoes of different sizes by arguing that ‘we all have one foot larger than the other, and you can always add an insole’. It sounds unlikely, but unfortunately it’s true!
Greedy or lazy
What about those nightmare salespeople who are so reluctant to present the offer that their customers must wrest the information from them, almost as if it were a state secret?
The real-estate agent who fails to send you the layout of the house you’re interested in buying, the saleswoman selling firewood who had to be convinced by us, her prospective customers, to supply our whole condo for the winter (it would have been easier to go out and chop the wood down ourselves), the waiter who does not inform you in advance of changes to the menu but just says ‘Sorry, it’s off’ every time you make a choice and without suggesting an alternative. Sometimes it can become quite a feat to buy something!
We should also mention the car salesman who when asked, ‘Can we check the engine power on the brochure?’ told us that no-one uses brochures nowadays because you can search the internet. When we insisted, saying ‘So, can we take a look together?’ he waved us off with a rather annoyed: ‘You can look yourselves when you get home!’ He was clearly telling us to leave, and just as we were about to finalize the details.
Unprepared or distracted
Being able to sell involves not only having communication skills but also specific competences that emerge when the time comes to present the offer. These competences enable us to respond appropriately to the customers’ needs (that came out earlier in the listening phase). Many nightmare salespeople think that they only need to smooth-talk their customers and add a winning smile to convince them to buy. A few months ago, while we were at the hairdresser’s, two elegant and rather blasé sales reps for hair products entered, and we were amazed to hear the following dialogue:
- Seller: ‘This shampoo is silicone-free, paraben-free, …’ and so on, reciting a list of technical terms
- Hairdresser: ‘So, how does it clean your hair?’
- Seller (embarassed): “er … I don’t know”
- Hairdresser (surprised) ‘Have you got a sample so I can try it out, at least?’
- Seller (all hope lost): ‘No, I haven’t!’
Equally illuminating is the case of the agency specializing in house lets, whose mission reads “listening to customers and responding to their needs in a personalized way”, that after a series of meetings, interviews and visits to determine the ideal tenant to whom we could let, turned up with a numerous family that would supposedly cram into our two-roomed apartment: they could hardly all fit in together to have a look around, let alone live there! We were all disappointed and embarrassed; the only one who pretended nothing was wrong was the estate agent who continued undeterred in her attempt to convince us it was a great solution.
Being either over-anxious or over-eager to close a deal, or the fear of “showing that I need to make a sale” and “avoid wasting time”, can lead us to commit errors when we present the offer, making us forget that sales is an activity based on a relationship that is built over time. If we consider a sale as a single moment in which we “go all-in”, or otherwise believe that the way we behave today will have no effect on the future and on our reputation, is a serious mistake. Unfortunately, we Increasingly come across salespeople who are unable to present the offer, forcing their customers to make a considerable effort and to “convince themselves” or give up. In sales ethics the best way to present the offer it is to integrate the value it expresses with the value that the customers want in terms of satisfying their needs and responding to their deepest motivations for the purchase. Do you want to tell us about your experience with some nightmare salespeople? Share your story in a comment to this article or write us and tell us about your best practice.
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