Nobody has it worse than sales people when it comes to negative connotations regarding their profession. The dishonesty of just a few people have caused sales reps to collectively suffer from pejoratives such as “snake oil”, “bait and switch” and the infamous “used car salesman.”
It’s really unfortunate.
No person is an island and sales reps need to improve the reputation of the sales industry. Of course it starts with honesty and integrity but those are just the table stakes. The best sales professionals will need to fully adopt empathy for their prospects and integrate this care throughout the sales cycle. We call it “sincere selling” and here are its 15 essentials ingredients:
#1 Become a subject matter expert
Plan on adding value to your prospects every time you encounter them. That means becoming an expert in the area they serve. Are things happening in their industry with their partners? competitors? Clients? Keep them in the loop. Are there new technologies or processes they should know? Help them solve their problems and be a trusted resource by becoming an expert.
#2 Sell trust by being a great listener
When we asked the one man who’s sold more software than Bill Gates what makes him a great salesmen, his answer was simple: “because I listen really really well.” Only by listening will you be able to truly understand your prospect’s position so that you can earn the right to help. You should be listening AT LEAST 2 times as much as you are talking and just remember…when you’re talking, you can’t learn anything new.
#3 Answer your phone and return emails promptly
Do you remember who pays the bills? Oh yeah, the client. So don’t make them ever wait on you.
#4 Genuinely care about customers and their outcomes
It should go without saying, If you don’t love the people you serve, then you should quit. If you’re not passionate about helping your customer get to their best outcome, then you’re just adding to their problems. Customers intuitively know when they’re being treated like a statistic instead of as a client.
#5 Have a winning attitude
Wake up and put a smile on your face. Attitude is everything. A positive outlook is going to you more productive, creative and energetic. If that doesn’t win you over, then consider this: psychology has found that simply being happy makes you 37% better at sales.
#6 Ask insightful questions
First rule: don’t ask any questions which you can easily find the answers. Come to your prospect with questions that stretch their mind and make them think. Uncover ideas and translate knowledge through intelligent inquiries. It shows the prospect you care.
#7 Understand the problems before exploring potential solutions
So many sales reps disregard this basic step and it’s given sales professionals such a sour reputation. Continually stay on top of your buyer’s changing needs (it might need help with business expansion but later can change needs to cost cutting) and never just pitch a product in the hopes that they will find it useful.
Ricky Roma said it best: “You never open your mouth unless you know what the shot is.”
#8 Take note of the details
Remember the little details your client told you – the people they work with, anecdotes, or specifics about their life – and bring them up in future conversation. It shows that you pay attention and it builds credibility. A simple trick is to use Evernote across all your apps and standardize your note-taking process.
#9 Always be on time
I was attending a leadership event and my buddy showed up 3 minutes late with the excuse of traffic. The respected leader retorted: “traffic is frequently an issue, but never an excuse”. Harsh. But if you are late, people will see you as uncaring, insensitive, and self-absorbed…or an airhead. It’s in your best interest to ensure you’re ALWAYS on time.
#10 Seek to become absorbed by your client’s needs and not your own
Are you forecasting the deal to drop at the end of the quarter so you can hit your numbers? Well, your client doesn’t care about your quarter. Walk into a sales engagement with your feet metaphorically in your buyers shoes. Understand their fears, desires, need and address them throughout the sales cycle.
#11 Be fully there in meetings
Put your phone away, make eye contact and don’t leave the moment of the meeting. Repeat back what your prospect said and let them know they are your number one priority during meetings. Engage. Engage. Engage.
#12 Do your homework
Keep tabs on the people you care about. Congratulate them when they get a promotion, win awards, or have great news about their company. Be “in the loop” and you’ll earn more opportunities to show your clients you care. Use one of these 6 free sales tools to automate the research effort.
#13 Don’t care who gets the credit and surrender the need to be constantly right
Truman said it best: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” On a similar note, never argue with your client. Ever.
#14 Accept the blame when things go wrong
Get over yourself and help your prospect be the hero. Admitting you were wrong will help you to right the wrong and endear you to your prospect.
#15 Simplify your buyer’s life
Complexity defeats the sale and irritates the buyer. Make it a no-brainer for them to buy from you.
Sincere selling is not a fad. It’s not a strategy. It’s a way of life. Most reps have sincerity but don’t show often enough. Hopefully, these ideas will help you sow it as habit.