Most often, information about the qualities of a great salesperson is developed from the side of the employer, not the buyer. For an employer, the best salespeople achieve high volumes of sales, engage in all the promotions, and will sell the full product line. This is great for a company, but not all customers. These salespersons are expected to be a good representative of the employer, to promote customer satisfaction. Most often, salespeople are labeled as working first in their own self-interest over that of the customer. Many companies go to great lengths to publicize their core values that includes a focus on the customer and satisfaction. The question here is – are the employers best salespeople exhibiting the qualities that a customer finds valuable?
By far, the most often heard complaint from customer is – “the salesperson doesn’t listen or care what I want, they are trying to sell their product at all costs”. My coaching to salespeople is to remember – you have 2 ears and one mouth – use them in that proportion. In other words, listen twice as much as you speak.
For the consumer, there is precious little written to help you identify whether the salesperson you are speaking with is one to avoid or to engage, until it is too late. There are 3 key ingredients to look for in your first encounter with a salesperson – respect, understanding through listening, and pricing transparency.
The first characteristic to identify is respect for your time. If they push themselves on you, use a deceptive means to reach you, or launch straight into a “pitch” about their product or service as soon as you say hello – this is not showing respect for your time. A good salesperson will schedule a call, or if it’s a cold call, ask if you have a few minutes to speak with them. Another sign they respect your time is determined through their preparation, to have at least learned what they can to identify how you might benefit from what they sell. Basic qualification of the customer is expected to be known.
A second characteristic of a good salesperson is one who asks questions and listens to your answers before they try to sell you “features”. They should try to find out if what they are selling is something you want or need. The salesperson should link your answers to the questions to something they provide for you if you buy. If a salesperson just starts telling you all about their product and how it will benefit you, they are “pitching”, not working in your best interest as a consumer, they just want a sale. Stop and move on from this person.
When you get to a pricing discussion, a good salesperson will give you their best price initially. They do not require a manager to speak to you or start discounting when you hesitate to buy right away. Their quoted price should be good for a week or two while you consider it. They may have discount for different options, but that should be up offered and explained up front. If they listened to you, they should have the requirements and be on target.
Special offers, buy-now discounts, or worse, the manager calls later and offers it at a lower price – you are not dealing with a reputable person or company. Demand respect – you are the buyer, expect them to listen and use your answers when proposing their product, and best price first, with time to consider (or research).