In sales, there’s often a disconnect between sellers and prospects that tends to get in the way of a smooth business deal.
There are many reasons for this, many of which are out of our control, whether it’s the prospect’s previous experience, the seller’s lack of emotional intelligence, or the portrayal of salespeople as fast-talking, unscrupulous hucksters in popular media, going back decades.
This disconnect often stems from a misunderstanding about salespeople and what goes into their day-to-day role. The stereotypes many people have about salespeople are oftentimes far from reality, and there’s little doubt that if most people knew what a sales rep’s day-to-day looked like, they’d approach their conversations with a bit more understanding.
Most salespeople wish they could explain these things to their prospects and customers.
And if they had a chance, here are six things that most sales reps would say:
1. “The more you tell me, the more I can help”
Some prospects reflexively clam up when talking to sales reps, which is somewhat understandable, but can also backfire.
A sales rep needs to be fully informed to recommend the best available product or service. And when a prospect holds back (for whatever reason), this leaves the sales rep guessing, and creates a contentious situation rather than a symbiotic one. If a prospect wants the best deal, the best option, and the best information, they should be as transparent with the sales rep as possible.
2. “What we do is far from easy”
There is a common misconception among the general public that salespeople go to work, make a few dials, then collect a massive paycheck they then spend on cars, boats, and fancy dinners.
While it’s true that successful salespeople are very well compensated, the job is far from easy, as evidenced by the thousands of people who try it only to leave after getting overwhelmed and burned out in less than a year.
Sales might be simple, but it’s certainly not easy.
3. “We don’t have much control over pricing”
Another common misconception is that sales reps set the price. In reality, pricing changes come from upper management, which decides how and what sales reps should be selling.
Sales reps can certainly provide feedback on what is and isn’t working when it comes to pricing, but they have little decision-making power when it comes to setting rates. They can, however, (and depending on their company), go to management and ask if they can offer a discount. But even that typically requires a manager’s approval.
4. “I’m working for a living, just like you”
Sales reps work for a living, and work very hard at that. But you would never guess that was the case based on how some people talk about (and treat) them.
Sales, especially these days, is a professional occupation, which requires training, experience, and lots of accountability. It’s no longer (if it ever was) a fly-by-night way to make a quick buck before getting out of town and leaving a bunch of people high and dry.
Once again, some of the misconceptions simply don’t match the reality.
5. “A ‘no’ is better than no response at all”
Many prospects are reluctant to tell a salesperson they’re not interested, and it’s usually for one of two reasons: either they expect the salesperson to be pushy and to try to talk them out of their decision (not an unreasonable expectation), or they feel bad letting somebody down. In either case, their intentions might be noble (albeit a bit self-serving), but the outcome just makes things worse.
Sales reps would rather hear a “no” so that they can move on, rather than continuing to chase the same prospect. So if a salesperson is messaging you and asking what you want to do, the second best answer you can give them is “I’m not interested.”
6. “We just want to help”
At the end of the day, sales reps don’t want to be adversaries, we want to be allies. We want to help prospects achieve their goals, because if we do that, then we can ensure that we achieve our own.
At the core of every successful salesperson’s philosophy is this mantra, and anybody who has ever had any real success in sales understands that helping your prospects is the only way to truly succeed in the long term.
To prospects out there, I’d say: next time a sales rep asks how they can help, just take them at their word that they mean it, and respond accordingly.
Finally, a sales process that gives you the freedom to sell.
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