I come from a fairly cheap family. We get what we need and that’s it. My parents bought a car once at the dealership and have not returned since. We’ll get a used car from our neighbor. Why? Saving money is a large part, but what was the key factor? Well, it’s the same motive that many other people have acquired.
They avoid car dealerships. Repel the idea of answering a phone call from an unknown number. Dread buying insurance. What do all of these examples have in common?
When you think of a car dealership, you think of a guy in a fancy suit ready to mislead you into buying a car you can barely afford. When you think of buying insurance, you think of being bombarded with different packages that you don’t fully understand. When you think of answering an unknown call, you dread the idea that the person on the other end is going to try to sell you something you don’t need. (Or they’ve been trying to contact you about your car’s extended warranty). In the past, my family has even had various salesmen come to our door selling frozen goods, vacuum cleaners, and math curricula.
All this to say, sales tends to get a bad rap. Salespeople are known for trying to get you with what looks like a deal but isn’t. The stereotypical salesman is untrustworthy, overbearing, and just plain annoying.
This isn’t always (and definitely shouldn’t be) the case. When it does happen, it turns people off big time. There is a key to Sales that many companies don’t exercise. Yes, car dealerships do manage to sell cars with cheesy salesmen. I’m not saying that their practices don’t work. What I am saying is that sales can be done in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the buyer that is positive.
My family finally renovated our outdoor space. It needed something and we have always wanted a pool. We visited a local pool vendor and a man asked us questions about our area, answered any questions we had, and made recommendations. It was a great experience. Why? What did he do that separated him from the stereotypical salesman? Jeffrey Gitomer (King of Sales) once said, “People don’t like to be sold to — but they love to buy.” This pool salesman wasn’t trying to sell us something. He was trying to help us. He was friendly, down to earth, and wasn’t afraid to tell us downsides. He recommended a solution for us after asking questions and listening to our answers. He clearly wanted to help us find a solution and use all of his knowledge to do so.
That sort of experience is what makes sales have a positive lasting impression on a customer. When you connect with a customer on a human level, they don’t feel like they are being sold to. Instead of having a solution shoved into their face, a solution is being hand selected according to their needs. A salesperson can be honest about imperfections and willing to go out of their way to help a customer solve their problem. The customer is left with a positive impression of the company, whether they bought the product or not. You could say, “But… the main reason for sales is selling stuff, right?” You’re right. That is the main reason the sales role exists. Regardless, when that’s your main goal, you will have frustrated customers. Using your product to help people should be the goal. If that is your goal, you are accomplishing a lot more for your company than just selling your product.