Do me a favor. Clear your mind for a second…Take a deep breath…
OK, I am going to say a word and I want you to make note of the first thing to come to your mind. You ready? Ok…here goes, the word is:
Yikes, I was scared that would be the response. I asked this question to a number of people over the last few weeks. Friends, family, co-workers, clients. Were any of these words in your head?
After going through this exercise, I feel like maybe we should do the introduction in an intervention style. Hi, my name is Kurt, and I am a salesmen. I have worked in a sales department ever since I graduated college 14 years ago. I have sold for professional sports teams. I have sold for a security guard company. I have sold lip balm; internationally no less, and I currently sell sunglasses.
For 14 years I have sold products for companies and have somehow avoided being called pushy, slimy, and most importantly I have not been called a liar.
Tonight I write this blog in New Braunfels, TX. Tomorrow I will be in Corpus Christi. Next week I will be in St. Louis and on and on it will go. AND. I. LOVE. IT. I love what I do. I love meeting new people and learning from them. I love working with people to find solutions. I love the process of sales. I love the art of sales. I love the competition of sales. I love it all.
However, I do not like that most of the people answering the question above perceive sales in such a terrible light.
So why does that stereotype exist? I turned 37 last April and had a friend come up and ask me a pretty innocent question. “How does life look another year older?” I had, amazingly, an instant answer.
“There are people who get it, and there are people who do not get it, and that’s how I see it” I said. Socrates I am not, but coming up on a year later, I still feel the same way.
And as that applies to sales, I apologize in advance to my brethren in the business, but most people in sales DO NOT GET IT!
It is a bold statement to make, but based on the answers to my questionnaire, most likely a majority opinion. “Don’t Get It” salespeople are everywhere. Here are some common ones you find, and some advice from someone trying to do it the right way:
× Doesn’t Get It:
The Teddy Ruxpin-You ever sit in a room with a salesperson and they talk for an hour straight? While you are bored senseless, this windbag picks up on none of it and keeps running his gums. Where does he find the air? Did someone pull the string on this guy before the meeting?
⇒ Does Get It -People do not like when you offer solutions to them without knowing their situation. Don’t believe me, try it with your girlfriend or wife. Go into a meeting having researched the company to the best of your ability and spend the hour asking 2-3 questions. Then, please for all of us trying to do it the right way…LISTEN!
× Doesn’t Get It:
The Rod Tidwell-“SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!” Like his Jerry McGuire namesake all this guy cares about is money. He shows no interest in working with operations to ensure client success and it is tough to ascertain whether he despises his co-workers more than he despises them. Hint Tidwell: they despise you more. He doesn’t even really care about the client he just sold, just when the commission is coming.
⇒ Does Get It –There is simply no better way to make a bad name for all of us in sales than to be this guy. It breeds contempt internally and will never build a long lasting relationship with those you are doing business with. Referrals are the motor oil of a “Get It” salesperson and no one is referring this guy to anyone in a positive light. If you work hard and do the right thing, money will always be there. It is not however the be all end all.
× Doesn’t Get It:
The Reinke-This is in dishonor of a salesperson I used to work with who actually made the following quote once. “Kurt, the key is to just call them every day, wear them down, and eventually they sign just so you will stop calling.” Not sure what that guy is up to these days, probably some used Datsun’s involved though.
⇒ Does Get It–I believe that this guy does the most damage to people in the profession. As you see above, pushy and annoying came up quickly in my questioning of people. Of course follow-up is important but salesmen need to error on the side of persistent and not pushy. It is always annoying when the boss asks “where are we at with ____(fill in company)" and you have no update. Well imagine the buyer if your only question to them when you call is “have you made a decision?” Instead of using your follow-ups to ask for the contract, try and create an action plan with them. Mention the contract only in passing and instead show that you are moving forward on getting everything ready for the program to be a success.
× Doesn’t Get It:
The Gary Payton-In honor of the NBA’s greatest ever trash talker. This salesperson heads into a meeting announcing how terrible his competition is and hoping this is the way into the buyers’ heart.
⇒ Does Get It –People who cannot see through this may not “get it” themselves. Putting down the competition all but announces to the free world both your insecurity and lack of trust you have in your product or service. Focus on what your company can do. Good buyers will be turned off by this approach most every time.