Posted on 04:43 PM, August 07, 2014
Getting The Edge In Professional Selling — Terence A. Hockenhull
THE OUTCOME of a sale should not be to sell to the customer at any cost (whether or not he needs the product). Rather, there should be a careful matching of client’s needs to the items offered for sale. Both parties (the salesperson and the client) should walk away feeling satisfied. The client should be firmly convinced he has made a valued decision and ended up with the right product at a cost within his budget.
The salesperson should feel a sense of accomplishment that he had helped the client through the decision-making process by providing professional advice and product knowledge. Indeed, there should be nothing that transpires between seller and buyer that will interfere with future business between them.
Poor selling habits contribute to unprofessional and unequal relationships between clients and salespeople. The salesperson must have a firm belief in his product. Unfortunately, when loyalty and belief in the product are strong, inexperienced salespeople often try to “railroad” their clients into buying. They seem to think they are doing the client a big favor. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
I have been looking at new cars recently with a view to buying something to replace my wife’s aging Honda. At one of the dealerships, the salesperson appeared disinterested in my requirements. He made up his mind that one particular car on the showroom floor would be suitable and insisted we look at it. Now, I know my wife and have a clear idea of what she wants. I also know exactly how much we can afford to spend. The car which was shown to me met neither my needs nor our budget! It appeared that the salesman had his own agenda; he was hell-bent on selling me this particular model. Even when I protested that this was not an appropriate vehicle because the engine was too big, he continued to extol its virtues.
What was happening here quickly became apparent as the salesman offered free auto alarm, window tint, seat covers, floor mats, a mobile phone and a host of other giveaways. The model was being phased out and it was the last one in the dealership. Pretty obviously, the Sales Manager had told the staff to “move it by the end of the day” and promised an attractive commission to the person who could sell it.
Perhaps the salesman’s enthusiasm demonstrated that he firmly believed the car represented the best deal for me. However, as a customer, I reserve the right to make my own decision. Pushy salespeople are rarely successful when the products or services they are selling are high value. Sure, clients appreciate help and assistance in making buying decisions. But the decision always rests with the client. When the salesperson tries too hard to affect this decision, the client will walk away to buy from another vendor. Further, it demonstrates very poor selling skills when a salesperson fails to recognize that the customer is resisting the purchase.
Salespeople who are focused on themselves and their own products and services generally fail to establish any sort of rapport or “connection” with their clients. It is unlikely that they will exhibit the traits that demonstrate a responsible approach to the client and his needs.
An example serves to demonstrate this. I bought my latest laptop computer in Singapore. I had a fair idea of brand, model and performance specifications. After spending 30 minutes in the store speaking with a highly knowledgeable salesman, he managed to persuade me to buy something different. He went out of his way to tell me how my desired performance levels would be matched by his suggestion. I have no doubt that if I had bought my original “choice” it would have delivered everything I wanted in a laptop. What is interesting, however, is that having spoken with the salesman, I wanted so much more from the machine. I hadn’t considered Bluetooth, mobile networking, video camera and built-in audio speakers. Notwithstanding, when I got the unit back to my hotel room, I was thrilled at being able to talk to my daughter in the UK for next to nothing and to use my cellphone as a mobile hot spot so I could connect to the Internet without paying the hotel’s outrageous Internet charges!
Honesty, ability and concern for customers are key qualities of professional salespeople. Without them, clients are unlikely to trust them. Even if the client buys, he will feel cheated or badly treated. The chances of him returning to the same company or salesperson are slim. Yet, when both salesman and customer feel comfortable about the outcome of the sale, future business is almost assured.
A sensible and informed decision