At some point in the last century it became hip to teach sales representatives that they should…
Always Be Closing
Perhaps sales trainers who taught this mantra were under the impression that potential customers would love it if their sales representative greeted them with “It is nice to meet you. “Are you ready to buy today”, like the experience we encounter on the automotive dealership lot when we are greeted with a similar statement. And if the customer didn’t buy immediately, they were trained that they should be closing during every opportunity during the meeting. They were instructed to ask for the sale each time the prospect said something positive. Like, “gee that’s an interesting point”, followed by the sales representative saying “fine, let’s get started right now” or some other canned phrase.
Oh, how in control that was supposed to make the sales representative feel… just thinking that he or she was on the road to super success simply because they had the courage to ask if the customer was ready to buy right now! Did they believe that the customer appreciated being asked to decide before establishing that the customer had a need for the product or service being sold and a right to ask for the sale? Or did they think that just because the customer expressed an interest, they were just waiting to buy right now? Did they think that the customer liked being treated that way? Do they like being treated that way?
Well, apparently, some customers were so intimidated by the Always Be Closing approach that they bought immediately. But then… they frequently cancelled their contract or voided their purchase order as soon as they could. Sure, some sales stuck. But what about all those buyers who simply tuned them out and said ‘we’ll get back in touch with you” and never did? And then purchased from a sales representative who was more interested in determining their needs and if the product or service would benefit them? How quickly do you think customers who were pressured to buy would recommend that sales representative to anyone else?
Today, in the second decade of the twenty-first century professional sales representatives should…
Always Be Collaborating
The Internet has changed the way buyers want to do business. Today’s buyers, whether in a business or in a consumer environment, have done their research and know what they want and what they want to pay for it. They desperately need a sales representative to help them sort through their options, to help them develop ideas, and to collaborate with them from the moment they express an interest until they have decided how they should proceed. In short, today’s customers want their sales representative to collaborate with them through the entire buying process.
Collaboration is the sensible way of selling today. Collaboration means that both the buyer and the seller are vested in the buying process to determine the right solution for the buyer. The goal is not simply to get a sale, but to develop the right product or service for the buyer while respecting the buyers buying cycle. Done correctly, acting in the customer’s best interest can sometimes result in recommending another company’s product or service. When that happens, the sales representative establishes a level of Trust with that buyer that results in an opportunity to be called upon again when that buyer has another need. And, it results in referrals from a customer who believes in the sales representative’s integrity.
Does collaboration mean that the sales representative should never discuss helping the customer get started? What is does imply is that if the representative has collaborated and feels trusted, the next steps will easily occur and usually, the customer will ask what he or she needs to do to get started.
Tomorrow’s sales representatives who can adopt the mindset that their job is to help their prospects and customers find the right solution at the right time and at the right price will be Top Producers.
An excellent book that is helpful reading is: From Selling to Co-Creating by Regis Lemmens, Bill Donaldson, and Javier Marcos.
Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Selling Systems and specializes in The Future of Sales. You can read more about the Future of Sales at uniquesellingsystems.com.
Harrison Greene can be reached in Lake Nona, Florida at 508-400-6193 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and his Linked In profile can be accessed at linkedin.com/in/harrisongreene.