Funny how all things old are new again. I wrote the following article in the tech meltdown when I first started Engage in 2001. This week it has been picked up by many major news sources as relevant to todays market conditions! I thought considering others were enjoying it, you might too. So, here it is in its original form…from the fall of 2001 to you now…..
Not long ago, a client of mine asked me how he could identify a successful sales person, and what kinds of sales people he should try to avoid. This question has since come up repeatedly in training sessions, and not just by managers trying to evaluate their team, but by sales people who are looking to improve their results, despite what others see as a soft economy.
As often as not, the question is followed by: “Is it even possible to be successful in sales today?”
The answer? Absolutely. How? Simple – stop blaming the economy. It’s not the economy that’s the problem. If you’re not making enough sales today, it’s because of one of two things:
1. You’re not working hard enough; or
2. You’re perceived poorly by your customers.
The first is easy enough to fix. If you’re not working hard enough, work harder! Get out and make those extra calls. If that doesn’t work, make five more.
The second problem is more difficult. To solve it, you first need to answer two questions: How do your customers perceive you? And how should they perceive you?
How do your customers perceive you?
Based on my research, sales people are generally perceived by buyers in one of four ways:
1. Purely transactional. Purely transactional sales people are in for the kill – always. They love “the deal,” and once a deal is done, they immediately move on to the next one. Most transactional sales people work in high volume but low price environments, where they can close numerous transactions each day or week. Traditionally, they don’t excel at building long-term relationships with their customers, and if the customer isn’t looking to buy right now, the transactional sales person quickly moves on.
2. “How do you like me so far?” These sales people rely on humor to get them in the door, and get customers to like them. They try to charm their prospects into buying. They tell jokes, dish great gossip and are always everyone’s favorite water cooler companion.
3. The Ginsu knifers. This category represents the majority of sales people – those who use greed to convince their prospects to buy. I call them “Ginsu knifers” in honor of the old infomercials where a slick announcer would constantly tease prospects with the line “but wait