The old style, stereotyped sales gun is still lurking out there, a serial employee who does not yet know that in today’s market they have become irrelevant.
So what is this stereotype – the fast talking, extroverted person who is keen to “win the deal at all costs“, “get the contract signed“, “you hold the pen, I’ll move the paper” kind of guy… You know the ones, they have been to many of the sales courses, they have all the right lingo and fluent with the buzz phrases that tickle our ears . They have learned that you need to listen to your customers and understand their needs – so they have developed skill in feigning empathy, they look like they are listening, but all too often they are thinking about what they are going to say next – and how they can make their solution fit your problem.
There is so much research out there that says we purchase more on our emotions (how we feel), and then look for the rational information to support what we feel. When we are confronted with these stereotype sales guys (male or female) – it feels wrong, we know they are not genuine or even care at all about our problems. So they then deploy the additional weapons of influence and coercion to get us to buy. Some customers do buy – but do not get me started on what this behaviour does for the customer experience. And let’s not even dare think about what these behaviours do for advocacy, from the non-buyers and the customers (read: net promoter score plummets..!).
For some strange reason most organisations today still recruit the ‘sales person’, rather than designing the optimal sales activity for their context, and then acquiring the right people for that context, training them and coaching them for performance. Each business seems to be looking for the “gun sales guy”. When looking for the gun, you will buy the sales guy selling themselves to you. Ironic. Shall we look at the turnover rate for sales people..? Average tenure..? How many sales people achieve target..? The results are not good.
Regardless of whether the context is B2C or B2B (even though we give them acronyms, the customers are still people), the key to success is for the sales leader to design the optimal sales activity for their context and their customers.
Then the trick for the sales people is – don’t sell.
Know what the optimal selling activity is, and work it.
Be yourself, be genuine, sincere, share your passion for what you do. people buy from people, real people. Do we need proof in this social media age that people actually want to connect..?
For example, in a B2B context. Get people talking with you about their challenges (leads) think of them as conversations and problems you can define and test/trial solutions (demonstrate capability), when the interest is peaked, agree a process on how to work together (this used to be called “closing the sale”, but today it needs to be “opening the relationship”, before you start any relationship you agree the terms).
For sales leaders – design your optimal sales activity, align your resources and maximise your results.
For sales people – don’t sell, understand you are working with people, know your optimal selling activity and work it.