The brand of the traditional salesperson has, is, and continues to be an outright disappointment.
Currently, North America views salespeople (male or female) as: intrusive, persistent, biased, manipulative, not entirely truthful, invasive, unintellectual, self-centred, aggressive and potentially unscrupulous. Most salespeople do not deserve these labels, they do not deserve their bad press. Wait, allow me to correct that. Salespeople get no press at all, good or bad. One of North America’s key generators of commerce, these unsung heros of business move like phantoms from door to door ignored, used, lied to, stood up, tolerated, fired, postponed, rejected … their phone calls disregarded, voice mail and e-mail deleted, direct mail trashed as their sell-cycles grow longer by the day.
The cost of keeping salespeople in the field today is growing exponentially and, like global warming, is not expected to see a correction anytime soon. The salesperson brand is bankrupt. The only solution is, in a word, REBRAND. The dismal reputation the selling profession bears has been largely of their own making. The encouraging flip side to this dilemma is that salespeople have the power to correct the problem. Over the next several weeks I’ll address the principles that require adoption to rebrand the ‘salesman’ into the ‘sales professional’ the marketplace will respect, trust, value, welcome and whose visits are looked forward to.
REBRAND Principle #1:
Respect your time. As a sales professional, time is not a resource you can play fast and loose with. Time is a non-renewable resource. Therefore, when you arrive at a prospect’s or a client’s place of business for a scheduled meeting, announce your arrival and remain standing. Sitting is passive. Never allow your prospect or customer to walk into the reception area and see you sitting. Time is money. A respectful host should receive you within 5 minutes, maximum. Never, never wait longer than 15 minutes. When 15 minutes has passed politely tell the receptionist that you have a busy schedule and suggest that your host call you to reschedule the meeting. Leave your business card with her/him. If the host does not call to reschedule I guarantee you that he/she had no immediate need for you. Move on to the prospects and customers who do.
REBRAND Principle #2:
When you schedule a meeting always draft a meeting agenda. You and your prospect/client should be clear on what the meeting is about and what you both expect to accomplish. Confirm the date, the start time, the end time and the place. Invite your prospect/client to reschedule the meeting if she is faced with a conflict and ask that any reschedule notice be communicated to you no less than 48 hours before the appointed time. Be polite, gracious and above all, professional. E-mail the agenda to your prospect and request receipt confirmation.
REBRAND Principle #3:
Whenever possible schedule meetings with prospects at your place of business. Here’s why. It does not matter that the prospect has invited you to her office to meet. It does not matter that she has graciously welcomed you upon your arrival. In her mind you are a salesperson and therefore an intruder. She will hear everything you say to her through her defensive filter.
Do you you know how many distractions are competing for your host’s attention? Her desk is infected with distractions.Voices and other sounds outside her office door, images on her computer screen, announcements of incoming e-mail and telephones are a constant reminder to her how complex her life is and that you are quickly becoming a liability.
Inviting prospects to your office for meetings is an exercise in qualification. She will not leave the comfort of her office and drive across town to meet you if she does not already have an interest in you and what you sell. In your office the dynamics are extraordinarily different. In your office you are not a threat to her. You are benign source of interest. In your place of business you can be the congenial host and as such you have the power to make her visit a vacation from the stresses of life. If you do not have a comfortable, hospitable, attractive, spacious meeting room … invest in one today. The return for that selling investment will out perform most others.
REBRAND Principle #4:
Shut UP !!!!! One of the hallmarks of the stereotypical salesperson is chatter. We all expect salespeople to yap and yap about their extraordinary products and services in order to convince us that what we don’t want, we actually need. Today most salespeople still live up to their stereotype. Is it any wonder the marketplace goes to great lengths to ignore salespeople, to distance themselves from salespeople and to shut them out.
There are no secrets to closing a sale. Like most successes closing a sale is based on common sense. Conduct interviews not sales presentations. Ask your prospect questions that will provide you with the answers you need to determine if what you sell can really help the prospect, make the prospect’s life easier, make her more successful. Truly take an interest then, SHUT UP …… and listen.
… More REBRAND Principles to come