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For those of you who have never been in sales, I would like to take you through a sales process (or some aspects of one) from the sales representative’s point of view. In sales, we are trained to look at situations as if we were sitting in the prospect’s chair. The reason for that is that it makes it easier for a sales person to recognize what is REALLY important to the prospect. You see, really awful sales reps will simply spout off what they are selling, assuming it is exactly what the prospect needs in the exact way they present it. If a sales rep ever does that to you, you have my permission as a member of the society of salespeople to unceremoniously kick their sorry butt out of your office. (By the way, that society doesn’t really exist as far as I know but we are a collegial bunch nonetheless and like to look out for each other, because one bad sales rep’s reputation makes it harder for the good ones in the future.)

So what I am going to do is give you a look from my side of the desk and then list the things you could do to make it better for us all in the future.

First off, if you have allowed me to get some of your valuable time either in person or on the phone, I am going to respect that time. How? By not grab-assing and building a lot of rapport. I want to know you personally and understand what makes you tick as a human being but we both have jobs to do so I want to get to the point where I help you do yours better through what I have to offer as quickly as possible. If you think the solution I bring to the table is one that helps your business efforts, then we can get to really know each other over your use of the product or service.

Next, as a professional I want to use appropriate language and not be offensive. If I am off-color in comments, it’s a window into how I do business. You may want to distance yourself from the types who think jokes and other things will help you decide to make a good business decision.

That said, as a professional I expect professionalism in return. Not much to ask, right? Here’s where the “bad” prospect comes alive much more often than not and it is where a huge disconnect seems to exist. Fortunately, this issue can be handled quickly, easily, and, of course, professionally, by doing one simple thing. Tell me the truth.

If you like what you see, tell me. It’s at this point that a real good salesperson won’t just think “I am closing this guy!” but rather would think “Great, we have some common ground to move forward on and to learn more so the right thing can happen here.” Don’t get me wrong, all salespeople want the sale, but the best ones want the right sale.

If you are not sure about something, then ask questions. Lots of them. If I do a crappy job of explaining something tell me. We are all grownups here and we all wear long pants, so be direct and respectful and I will be glad to try to clear something up for you. It is terrible for my sales efforts if you are unclear on a point.

If you are not interested, just say it. After we shake hands or hang up the phone, don’t ignore my follow-up emails and phone calls. You are not doing anything other than being a jerk. Yup, I said that. You are not avoiding anything. I am taking notes about your lack of professionalism and wondering if you would be a good client anyway, because you appear to be a bit spineless.

There is nothing wrong with telling me directly and professionally that my product or service is not for you at the time. I may want to get some clarification and, because I invested time, I deserve some feedback. If I am truly a professional, I will take a genuine no and offer to stay in touch if you so desire, or simply spend my time talking to others that are a better fit. I can take no. I can’t take no answer.

There is so much more to discuss from my side of the table (and I might do it some day in another post) but for now I can give you this very real insight. I am not interested in selling ice to Eskimos. In other words, I am not interested in trying to sell you something you don’t need or something you already have. That’s just bad manners.

What I am interested in doing good business through direct, honest and efficient communication. Stringing me along because you are unsure how to say no or some other ridiculous reason you concoct does neither of us any good. If direct communication is a problem for you, then you may need to get someone else to do your job. Your mishandling of a sales situation impacts your personal reputation and your company’s reputation as well. We sales types have long memories and are willing to share information.

It’s like the old saying that goes, “Well,no one ever got fired for hiring IBM!” (I suspect that is a bit of hyperbole but it sure does read well doesn’t it!?) You can now think, “Well, no one ever comes off bad by being truthful and respectful.” No hyperbole there folks. That’s just the way it is.

Any thoughts for this sales guy? Ask away, I can take it. Hopefully, we’ll both learn something in the process.

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