Tired of being saddled with unfair stereotypes about sales professionals?
Me. too. That's why I take pains to demonstrate different actions and to disassociate myself from the ones that cause buyers to cringe or to avoid me.
It's easy, once you get the hang of it. And it feels better to do business in a way that causes buyers to be more receptive, eager even, to talk with me.
You aren't bound by sales stereotypes. You can choose different behaviors.
You get to choose. You can choose to act like the Glengarry Glen Ross seller. Or not.
Lots of sellers choose the stereotypical behaviors. It's what they see on-screen, as buyers, maybe even in their sales managers and colleagues. They step into their sales role and then say and do things they wouldn't in any other setting.
Being a hunter, a closer, or a top producer does not require you to be a "snake oil salesman" or a con artist. If you think you need to use sneaky tactics, to lie, to exaggerate or to prey on the weak in order to make a sale, it's time to rethink what you're doing. None of those are necessary.
You also don't need to be a fast talker. You don't need to "always be closing" or to "go for the kill." You get to choose. You can sell in ways that are authentic to you.
Buyers assume the sales stereotypes are accurate. Your non-salesy behaviors will be a welcome surprise.
Maybe you've noticed.
If not, watch for it. When you're introduced as being a sales professional, even in casual conversations outside of work, note the vaguely awkward reaction.
It's as if everyone is mildly allergic to sellers. Some brace, as if you're about to launch into an unwanted sales pitch. Others say "oh..." in that tone that precedes "that's nice" when something really isn't nice at all. And others make quick exits from the conversation.
What people don't do very often is ask you about your work. It's not like being introduced as a doctor where people smile, relax and ask follow-up questions like ("what's your specialty?" and "how's your handwriting?"). It's not like being introduced as a teacher or public servant where the response is appreciation.
These responses to sellers are negative because these stereotypes about sellers are so prevalent. Sadly, the behaviors that cause these stereotypes are prevalent, too, so people (especially buyers) reflexively respond.
This creates a big opportunity for you!
You can easily surprise buyers by choosing non-stereotypical behaviors. It's refreshing and builds rapport and trust when you do things differently. Human-to- human connections form when real people simply have conversations.
Behaviors that affirm sales stereotypes get in the way of connections and trust. Why wouldn't you abandon them?
Stereotypical sales behaviors (e.g. Wolf of Wall Street) do not cause people to want to buy from you. If they do, buyer's remorse will increase returns and reduce repeat business. If it doesn't feel good to buy from you, they won't.
Trust is the currency of new relationships. Behaviors that build trust will secure repeat business and referrals. Behaviors that cause mistrust will cause buyers to dodge your calls. This is such an important aspect of selling that I strongly recommend you do three things, stat!
- Read Sales EQ, the new book by Sales Gravy CEO Jeb Blount. It will help you see the full impact of trust in selling.
- Download the first chapter of DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected. It's free and focuses exclusively on establishing trust from the very first contact made.
- Audit yourself for one week. Make a tally mark every time you say or do something that could potentially cause a buyer to doubt you. Be honest and don't get defensive. This is about increasing your awareness so you can make different choices if you want to demonstrate a higher level of trustworthiness.
Remember, you have a choice. You can stick with behaviors that cause buyers to make negative assumptions about you. Or you can modify your behaviors and more easily form strong bonds with more buyers.
Shift your sales behaviors. Here's an easy place to start that will have high impact.
There are 30 specific behaviors that buyers say will make them more likely to meet with you and more likely to buy from you. The Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement is dedicated to educating sellers about these behaviors.
These three may surprise you. They are not typical selling behaviors. But they get high marks from buyers who lament that more sellers don't act this more frequently.
The behaviors themselves are from the 30+ years of research done by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge®. You see, the behaviors aren't stereotypical sales behaviors. They are evidence-based leadership behaviors that are proven to make leaders more effective. We now know they work wonders for sellers, too.
The quotes come from our Panel Study with 530 B2B buyers who represent a cross-section of industries and purchasing roles. T
The seller praises people for a job well done.
"When the seller praises us for doing a god job that’s what impacts me the most. I like for them to tell me 'good job' after I’ve done something good."
To differentiate yourself and build a relationship with buyers, praise them. That's easy to do, requires no special skills, and is something you can begin immediately!
The seller makes sure that people are creatively recognized for their contributions to the success of our projects.
"Making sure morale is high does wonders for job performance. When buyers are happy and confident, so are sellers... When a seller was willing to donate materials to my outreach program, it was so beautiful."
This behavior requires a little more thought and planning. Creatively recognizes people starts with knowing what they value. Use pre-call planning to find out about the causes they support. Here's a tip: read the LinkedIn recommendations your buyer has given others. You'll soon see what business behaviors they value most!
The seller gets personally involved in recognizing people and celebrating accomplishments.
"I think that it is important for a seller to be highly involved in not only the success but also the recognition of the work. It boosts productivity as well as morale."
This may be something that's never occurred to you. You can influence the morale and productivity of your buyer and others involved in the purchasing process. You do this by personally recognizing people and celebrating the accomplishments that contribute to your sale.
A gatekeeper put you through to the decision maker? That's an opportunity for recognition and celebration that boosts morale and productivity. When you get involved this way, you are something more than a vendor.
Looking for more ways to differentiate yourself and connect with your buyers?
Read the book that shows you how to build trust, engage buyers and become the ONE seller that buyers actually WANT to talk to. This bestseller was recently named one of "The 20 Most Highly-Reviewed Sales Books of All Time" by HubSpot!
Learn more about The Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement and our groundbreaking B2B buyer research. This movement is founded in the evidence-based framework The Leadership Challenge® by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.
The award-winning CONNECT2Sell Blog is for professional sellers who believe, as we do, that Every Sale Starts with a Connection. Our 2017 emphasis will be on reporting buyer-side research and how sellers can connect with buyers and sell more effectively by adopting the behaviors of leaders. The Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement is all about the future state of sales and your success as a Sales Professional.
Deb Calvert is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach. Her bestselling book “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” has been named by HubSpot as one of "The 20 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time."