I get a lot of calls from telemarketers – tele-sales people really, because they are instantly into the Close Phase of the sales cycle trying to get me to commit right now. The worst are (or used to be) investment managers – brokerages, counselors, etc. Some were sales pros – they ask first, sell second and know when to stop wasting their time and be polite about it.
The rest are why the sales profession gets a bad rap, and they should not be categorized as sales professionals. They are soldiers, thrown at the phone like so much cannon fodder, and are quickly killed off and replaced by the next wave of zombies with a script.
I try to be patient and polite with each of them, giving them a chance to be professionals and take a nice but resolute “no” as a signal to quit. But they don’t. They have a list of hooks that they try to sink into you, and they must get paid by the number of these they cast out.
My favorite hook attempt is generally the one they ask just before I lose patience and end the phone call with a touch of a button – “But don’t you want to make money?” My answer to that, just before pressing the button, is “Yes, I do. That’s why I use a professional.”
I expect most people don’t even let them get that far, and this accounts for the increasing desperation as they spit out their rote pitches. They must be expecting the cutoff much earlier and are unused to getting that far down the list. But they are supposed to be sales professionals, as I am, and so I give them a lot more latitude than others might.
That got me to thinking of how other sales professionals react to being the customer, and how the sales person adjusts his process to accommodate that. As it happens, I am surrounded by sales professionals who are actively selling to other sales professionals every day, so I decided to ask them what they encounter and learn from selling to salespeople.
I think that pursuing this question is useful because that sales situation makes us focus on our processes and techniques like no other. We may end up doing everything the same as if we’re selling to a finance person or end-user engineer, but we are likely to take a harder look at each step we take, each strategy we try, each tactic we plan knowing that the person on the other side of the table has gotten a long, hard look “behind the curtain.”
So, here are some of the comments I got. Most of them apply to every sales situation, and maybe that observation should cause you to look closely at how you manage your opportunities.
Use a straightforward approach. This observation was accompanied by the qualifier that you can count on a more sympathetic attitude from another salesperson. My reaction to that is that if you are always straightforward, you’ll get a sympathetic attitude from most customers.
They will focus on your technique. I heard both sides of this coin, and I agree with what our business partner in Germany said: “Sales people, when it comes to buying for themselves or for their business, are no different than other people in that situation. They are concerned with the product or service they are going to buy, and do not focus on the tactics or strategies of the seller.”
You can be obvious in your close, they understand what you’re doing. Again, I expect that every customer knows when you’re closing, and trying to disguise it just makes them uncomfortable because they see you as being duplicitous – not a good image to project.
So, why not treat every sales situation and every customer as if you’re selling to another salesperson? You’ll be more professional (and successful) if you do that.
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