I think we can all remember experiences where we go buy a product or a service and we immediately encounter the typical sales person: the fast-talker, the know-it-all or the wishy-washy.
There are many types of bad sales people. Unfortunately, you can’t always recognize them from a mile away. The fast-talker is easy to spot. They rush you through the sales process and as soon as your signature is on that contract, the tune changes. The warranty is not what you discussed. They are not available for a follow up. They blame you for not knowing what you wanted. You feel stuck and cheated. You vow to no longer buy from that company or from that person.
The know-it-all is relatively easy to spot. They can be very helpful with all the information that they possess and want to share. They are not totally bad. The problem with the know-it-all is that there is a fine line between knowing and not knowing, and that line does not exist to them. They don’t see it. So, they tend to trample on in the hopes that the person that they are talking to hasn’t done their research prior to the sale. Although they have good intentions, their inability to distinguish fact from fiction can render them on the “not so good” list of sales people.
This next type is difficult to spot. They have learned not to be too pushy and to mask their anxiety of filling their sales quota with a steady voice and sentences that are carefully crafted. The problem with this type is that they are wishy-washy in their answers. They are difficult to spot because they circle around the topic using tactics that create an illusion that they know what they are talking about. At times, they are capable of speaking with conviction, so you believe them. However, when it’s all said and done and you cut through the weeds, they are always on the fence and afraid to say something that might trigger the customer to realize that they don’t need what is being sold. They fling around and change positions to make the sale. They are not honest and transparent. They look like the inflatable air clown that moves around in the wind.
When things go haywire and you expect a refund for the product or complain about the service, the tables turn. You soon realize that you have been conned. They blame you. They don’t hold their end of the bargain. They stall. They make excuses. They try to change the agreements or try to get you to interpret them differently. They are bad sales people.
With a few clues, you can learn to discern the good from the bad and drop those clowns like a bag of potatoes before you ever sign on that dotted line.
The new era involves becoming a Trusted Advisor. Becoming a Trusted Advisor is a lifestyle. You have to live it. It carries over to other aspects of life and it shows. The Trusted Advisor is a natural at advising people. They are natural because they are not focused on the sale itself, but on the customer and the relationship.
The trusted advisor knows that customers are not buying because companies have the secret sauce to the product or service. They realize that they are the secret sauce. And while companies are busy fighting with their competitors, the trusted advisor is quickly building their trusted network.
They are customer-centric. The trusted advisor couldn’t care less if they reach their sales quota. In fact, they are the ones reaching them because that is not their primary focus. That’s “sales collateral”. Their focus is on finding the right solutions for their customers. They are obsessed in finding the right one. They are also not afraid to refer the customer to another company, when they realize that others might carry the solution.
They have a diverse background. The trusted advisor has enough experience in various segments that they can easily relate to a problem. They have a wide range of tools and their toolbox and are not limited to one aspect of the problem.
They have a good reputation. The trusted advisor will have a good reputation in the industry. They will have the knowledge of how the product works for their clients and who the product was made for. They are not afraid to speak out and refuse to recommend something that they know will not be the solution.
They are honest and transparent. The trusted advisor is not afraid to bounce ideas around. They are also not afraid to say something that might trigger the customer to give up the purchase. They ask questions and inquire about the problems that the customer is facing.
They follow up. A trusted advisor is concerned with finding solutions, so naturally they would want to know if what they recommended is working. They text, email or call. They use the means of communication that is best suited for the customer.
They listen. Trusted Advisors spend 90% of the conversation listening. Being a trusted advisor is a bit like being a psychologist. If you don’t listen, you can’t possibly know what the problem is.
They don’t pass judgment. When you pass judgment, you can’t establish a clear path to a trusted relationship. Trusted advisors know that having preconceived ideas is bad for business. They are open to new challenges so that they can foster new ways of doing business.
The next time you are out and about searching for a product and service to buy, be attentive to the different types of sales people and look for the trusted advisor. It’s an investment that pays off.
An advocate for lifelong learning. A self-admitted textbook collector. I have been traveling around the globe since the tender age of 16 and have lived in 3 different countries. Some say that the 90's cartoon character "Carmen SanDiego" was loosely based on me, but who knows. I am a nerd at heart with a huge passion for science, marketing and teaching.
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