Selling is no easy job: there’s a long apprenticeship, a variable salary and long days spent away from home. It’s perhaps not surprising then that occasionally a salesperson becomes hardened and starts to believe that to achieve the best results you must “beat” the customer. This old-fashioned approach to sales is destined to die out in a world in which, thanks also to digital culture, words such as reputation, transparency and reliability are regaining ground. However, it is worth analysing some of the practices implemented by these “nightmare salespeople” to remind ourselves just how sales relationships should play out. We will devote the coming months to gathering and commenting on some of the most striking cases, thanks also to your contributions from you: anyone wishing to contribute can do so by writing their negative experience here. To make it easier for you to identify the most common mistakes that nightmare salespeople make with their customers, here’s an analysis of the reasons which lead them to make such mistakes.
Effects vs Causes
Selling falls within the field of economic activities. Even when working for a company, salespeople are in fact entrepreneurs of themselves. Their earnings are calculated on achieving a goal and their job often means they must anticipate significant amounts of money. Like any good entrepreneur, they must therefore consider the people with whom they come into contact as an investment, not just a cost. In economics, as we know, “money machines” do not exist and, as we mentioned in the post Investments and Returns, returns follow investment – they do not precede it. Instead, we often find ourselves faced with salespeople who see the customer relationship only as a hurdle to overcome in order to get a result. Adopting this perspective, however, is to forget that the effects (commercial success) are always linked to the causes and in selling the only causes that will generate purchases are customer satisfaction, the relationship and the generation of value.
Expertise and skills
Whatever your opinion on selling, a good sale is never improvised. Salespeople are professionals who must possess a mix of expertise and skills. Having the gift of the gab will never be enough to convince a customer, salespeople must also know how to listen and be knowledgeable about what they are selling in order to give useful advice. Frequently though, customers find themselves faced with a hammed-up performance that fails to inspire confidence. At the other extreme are the super-technical sellers, who reel off data and comparisons with the competition, convinced that their interlocutors are interested and then going on to treat their customers as ignorant when they discover it is not so.
Method and Responsibility
Must an ethical salesperson be spontaneous and not manipulative? In some ways, the opposite is true:
Actually, if say you believe in spontaneity at all costs and do not want to manipulate anyone, you risk making a mistake.
In our view, spontaneity in sales is an abused concept that often conceals the absence of a real working method. The quality that an ethical seller must undoubtedly possess is sincerity, which is very different from spontaneity-improvisation. Having a method means following steps through a negotiation, which will allow us to offer a professional service to our customers, starting from the greeting and concluding with the parting, stages to which we devote particular attention in the book Sales Ethics. Consider, for example, what would happen if you entered a shop and “spontaneously” none of the staff greeted you: you would likely leave immediately. Moving on to the idea of manipulation, we ask you to consider it by starting from your personal relationships. Think of your parents, your children or your partner: are you certain that you’re not trying to get something from them or FOR them? It ‘s impossible to say no to this question, and anyone who insists on doing so is actually delegating, perhaps unconsciously, the responsibility of that relationship. Being aware of the goals we have with others, allows us to act with transparency and sincerity, by taking full responsibility for the outcome.
The good news is that having a goal in relationships does not necessarily mean plotting behind someone’s back or trying to con them, because what we want to achieve might well be in their interests.
A mother wants her children to be safe and healthy, just as any lover would like to be loved in return. Salespeople who cannot take responsibility for their relationship with the customer, guiding it toward a common goal, will sooner or later begin to blame others for their failures, coming out with phrases like ‘I am not the one who behaves badly, it’s the customers who force me into it’.
Alberto remembers how as a child he went into a clothing store for children with his mother; above every shelf there was a notice saying “DO NOT TOUCH”. Not knowing yet how to read, he picked up a T-shirt and a member of the staff immediately told him off. He was naturally upset and complained, ‘How was I to know I couldn’t touch? The notice if only for people who can read’. The salesman flushed with anger and replied ‘I think you’re a bit young to be telling me how to run a shop!’ Insensitivity towards the customer, a poor reception and a purchase journey strewn with obstacles: a story that is quite typical of the many nightmare salespeople we’ll tell you about in the next post. By the way, are you an ethical seller or a nightmare salesperson? Take the test to find out!
| partem claram semper aspice |