Why would you accept a job offer from a company seeking to hire a salesperson?
Is it salary, commission, benefits, travel, prestige, perks, the adrenaline-rush of closing a sale, is it about satisfying your innate ‘hunter’ instinct, the challenge of meeting and exceeding quotas, or is it a sense of duty and loyalty to your prospective employer? If these are your priorities I wouldn’t hire you. I don’t need your loyalty or your hunter instinct.
Today’s visionary employers no longer want traditional, self-serving, in-it-for-the-kill salespeople. Those salespeople died with polyester suits, telemarketing, walk-in office cold-calls and the word ‘solutions’. Today’s visionary employers are interested in only one thing … self-starting salespeople with loyalty to only one person. The CUSTOMER. Satisfy the customer at a profit. Personal and corporate success and wealth will follow.
Visionary employers don’t hire sales staff, they hire first-responders … professionals for whom the customers’ welfare is their priority. Selling today is a profession. The definition of a ‘professional’ is the man or woman, who is entirely customer-centred. Customers want to be taken care of not taken for a ride. Customers need service so that they have the time, energy and money to take care of their customers, families and themselves. The salesperson that puts her customers first makes it very difficult for her competitors to step in. Take care of your customers and they’ll tell others how to find you. Take care of your customers and your employer will be too busy laughing all the way to the bank to replace you. Take care of your customers and they will take care of you. Learn to give first.
Customers need allies, collaborators, people covering their backs. They don’t need another salesman.
Companies with proven products or services, with established territories consisting of satisfied customers often remunerate their salespeople on a commission-only basis. These companies value their sales staff and know that commissions from repeat sales will adequately reward them as they prospect for new clients and increased sales from existing clients. Make no mistake, the candidates chosen for these positions are seasoned professionals as passionate about increased market share as their employers. They share a fundamental principle with their employers … ‘mutual respect’ and both are equally protective of the other’s back. They are in many ways, true allies.
There is however a glut of North American companies of all sizes and in all industries inspired by the famous P.T. Barnum quote. ”There’s a sucker born every minute.” Sadly, P.T. was not far from wrong. The legions of men and women willing to sign on as sales persons for these companies with little more than a promise of commission, are staggering. In defence of both parties however, many are simply operating out of ignorance and the myth that salespeople are, and have always been, bounty hunters. This myth has been the leading cause of employment instability in the selling profession.
The indiscriminate hiring and firing of poorly trained and poorly compensated salespeople has for decades wasted the market’s time, tested its patience and hindered sales. Today’s highly educated, more sophisticated and time starved buyers no longer have the time nor the patience for self-absorbed, commission-only salespeople or their employers. The fallout from bounty hunter style selling has manifested in our North American markets as ever-lengthening sell-cycles, higher operating costs, reduced global competitiveness … not the least bit helpful to an economy struggling to recover.
North America’s competitiveness within our ever evolving global economy depends on new-perspective adaptations not the least of which demands the rebranding of the sales profession. Companies intrenched in the old ways of selling and the old ways of qualifying, hiring and compensating salespeople will be overtaken by their competitors who recognize that:
* selling is a component function of a marketing
* profitable selling requires a support system consisting of every marketing mix component
* selling is no longer an isolated discipline where winning and losing a sale is solely salesperson-dependant
* selling today demands relationship development before prospects are prepared to buy
* sale-dependant commissions often do not adequately compensate salespeople for the time they invest in initiating, developing and maintaining prospect relationships and force many sales people to become mercenary and adversarial … counter intuitive to building relationships
* selling is a profession
* customers and prospects alike have little time for sales people … they need sales professionals prepared to be their allies, long-term.
If you are a sales professional with a proven track record seeking employment, in other words marketing your services to the most qualified buyer:
* Do your research prior to an interview … determine if the company offering a career opportunity has a stable track record and is well-liked by their target audience.
* Be honest with the employer and yourself. If during the interview you discover that you do not have exactly what the employer needs to help her company be successful tell her and explain why. If you happen to know a more qualified candidate tell the employer. You may be able to help the employer by facilitating a meeting with the better candidate. Think about it … if you were presenting a product or a service to a prospect and realized the fit was not right, would you push to close the sale or help your prospect find a product or service with a better fit?
* Ask the employer to share her reasons for hiring. Are you replacing someone who left? Why did they leave? Is the employers business losing or gaining market share? What objectives and goals does the employer hope you’ll be able to help them achieve? Is the employer hoping to increase sales to impress an eventual buyer for her company? If you haven’t already guessed, you are as entitled to gauge the qualifications of the employer as they are entitled to determine your suitability. A reputable employer will welcome the exchange.
* If the compensation package is ‘commission only’ determine what the company’s existing sales team are able to earn. Ask about the territory you will be responsible for, its current health, potential, challenges, competition. In a stable, robust company ‘commission only’ can be very lucrative. If on the other hand a stable volume of existing, commissionable sales cannot be proven because the company is relatively new, for example, then other forms of compensation would have to be discussed.
Any new relationship has its inherent risks. Prior to entering that relationship you must be able to see that the other party is willing and able to share some of that risk.
Overcoming the Fear of Selling … is the presentation I’ll be giving to a group of new business owners on June 10th as part of the YMCA-YWCA Self Employment Program. Fear of selling is a huge limiting factor for many people, absolutely critical if you own a new, small business. The good news … There is a solution.
If this topic fits the theme of your next business gathering … I would be pleased to speak to your audience. Overcoming the Fear of Selling is available as a keynote address, a seminar or through individual mentorship.
The phrase ‘overcoming objections’ out-clichés most other jargon in the misunderstood profession of selling.
‘Objections’ are, supposedly, the roadblocks … the counterpoint that prospects use as protection during their struggle not to become customers. In vampire lore garlic, holy water and the crucifix are equivalent to sales objections. Traditional salespeople have, down through history and to this very day, been cast as hunters and prospects their wary prey. Selling sand to Arabs and snow to Eskimos has long been the popular metaphor for recognizing talented, successful salespeople. Is it any wonder we often do our best to evade salespeople?
What are objections? Are they safeguard devices to fend of salespeople or are they really just the mental stepping-stones we all use to make decisions?
A prospect (an almost customer) objects for one of two basic reasons.
Reason #1. He lacks key logical facts to back up his emotional desire to buy. Objections in this case are the prospect’s way of asking the seller to furnish the logical facts he needs so he can comfortably sign on the dotted line.
Reason #2. She possesses all the logical facts she needs and is certain that a purchase is absolutely illogical. Objections in this case are the prospect’s way of postponing what she fears most … saying no to the salesperson. She’d much rather object or pretend to be interested and postpone a decision than say ”No.”
The seller’s first job is to differentiate between the two basic objection reasons. If it’s reason #1the seller must identify what logical facts the prospect needs and then determine if he can honestly deliver the necessary facts to close the sale. If it’s reason #2, the seller must convince the prospect that it is safe to say no and not pursue the sale any further.
Unfortunately, traditional salespeople rarely differentiate between the two reasons and treat every objection as a challenge to a battle of wits, serving to perpetuate the blood lust image of ’salespeople’. The mistake we as salespeople have made for too long is believing that objections are bad things … things to be overcome, when in fact they are valuable evidence that can quickly qualify or disqualify a potential sale. Quick, accurate qualification saves time, money, relationships and increases sales revenue and profit. Treating objections with patient respect would also go a long way to rebranding salespeople as allies instead of predators.
If you believe objections are to be overcome … guess again …. your closing rate will improve and you will earn the respect of your target audience, to say nothing of your self respect.
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