“I Hate Salespeople!”… With a look of absolute disdain, those were the words coming out of my prospect’s frowning mouth. He went on to tell me that “we’re all the same” and that he was sick of “slick selling gimmicks to convince him to buy something he didn’t want or need.”
Like many prospective customers, this person seemed to be an otherwise reasonable and intelligent person. Why then, I wondered, had he developed such a strong dislike and distrust of sales people. That question prompted me to do a little digging. I did a search on Google for some seemingly simple sales phases to see what would come up. I was floored by the sheer volume of results I got back.
- Sales Tips: 475,000,000 results
- Sales Process: 50,900,000 results
- Sales Training: 262,000,000 results
Those three alone accounted for more than three quarters of a BILLION results (pay close attention folks…that’s a “B”)! I went a bit further and started visiting random sites that popped up. Every site had all sorts of advice, tips, and processes but without exception, they all centered around some sort of method to help sales people convince the prospect to buy their “widget.” It’s no wonder our prospects are slamming phones, closing doors, and deleting emails from us; we’ve created entire industries around trying to sell them something, and in their minds it’s often something they don’t need.
Do a Google search for “Sales Training Companies” and you’ll get more than 17 Million results. Now obviously those aren’t all individual training firms but suffice to say there are a lot and they all claim their process is the best. Since we’re still on the numbers bandwagon here, another Google search showed me that there are approximately 25 Million listed companies in the U.S. Here is the scary thing. In spite of the number of companies in the space and the billions spent on sales training each year, CSO Insights notes in its latest survey that fewer than 50% of sales people are achieving their objectives! So let’s review what we know… We’re not hitting our targets and we have buyers who avoid us like the plague – something clearly isn’t working.
What’s the problem? Nearly all sales processes are geared towards convincing a prospect to purchase what we are selling. I can hear you already… “But Ray, we’re paid to sell!” I know, so am I, but the fact that we’re sellers is not the same thing as how we should be selling. Everybody says their process is customer focused, but in reality it’s not… it’s not truly about the buyer. It’s focused on the seller’s perspective and them getting paid. No matter the marketing speak describing the sales process as customer focused or buyer centered, upon close examination of the actual methodology you often find tactics and techniques intended to control or even manipulate the buyer. Too little transparency and too self-serving, no wonder we aren’t getting the results we want, neither are our buyers!
The truth is that everything we do should be based on the buyer’s perspective and focused on helping them succeed… We believe that our role as sales professionals is to bring value to the organizations with whom we engage, whether they buy from us or not. In every engagement we should be bringing value. And when the value that we bring is helping the buyer leverage any of the solutions that we have that will then bring value to them and ultimately help them succeed at a higher level… That’s when we make a sale.
Our very purpose must be to help the buyer make more intelligent and informed buying decisions. This is especially important when you consider that most buyers have had very little if any training on HOW to evaluate alternatives so that they ultimately get what they want. When you think about it, most buyers get training on how to negotiate the best price for what they’ve decided they’re going to buy. They don’t get trained on how to figure out what the best thing is for them… That should be the role of the salesperson.
When we change our view of our role, we change our interaction with the buyers and they change their reaction to us. The effect is better results for everyone.