The Sales Success Stories Book – 60 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals was published October 16, 2018. Learn more: http://top1.fm/book
In between the regular interview episodes, we’ll continue to release sample stories from the book like this one. You can either listen to the episode and hear AJ read his story, or read the full text below.
Ditching the “Salesman” Mentality
By: AJ Brasel
When I first started a career in sales, I often found myself cringing a little bit whenever people asked what I did for a living. I never wanted to be considered a commission-hungry salesman that preyed on the weak to line my own pocketbook. A career in sales, in my mind, carried a “Used Car Salesmen” stigma that I found extremely unpalatable. A few months into my career, I decided to ditch the mentality of doing what was best for me and started to work on doing things that were in the best interest of my customers. Showing a true concern for the best interest of your customer’s well-being helps build a relationship that has a strong foundation of trust; your customers will stop being suspicious of your intentions and will look to you as more of an advisor. The result is the same – increased compensation – but you’ll end up enjoying a longer and more fulfilling career as a result. The key to gaining this mentality can be broken down into three solid fundamentals: fully understanding your customer’s needs, setting realistic customer expectations and knowing when to walk away from a prospect.
Trying to plug a product or solution into a situation that it doesn’t fit into might yield short-term success, but will end up causing issues in the long run. Whenever you first engage with a prospective customer, it’s extremely important to ask qualifying questions and spend most of your time listening. One of the biggest pitfalls salespeople get themselves into is thinking they need to go into a call and over communicate how life-changing their product is. Forcing your way into a prospect’s pocketbook by overselling does work and I’ve seen reps be successful doing it, but in the long run, you will kill your chances of repeat business and find yourself needing to work harder to bring in new leads. The best way to start to plant that seed of trust is to go into all calls without worrying what is going to make you the most money. Start the meeting by asking a few open-ended qualifying questions and letting your customer lead you to the sale by giving you information. If you spend your time listening to the prospect’s current pain points and needs, they will tell you everything you need to know to get the sale and look like a hero in the long run. Opening a dialog will allow your prospect to be part of the buying process and will give them confidence that by going with your product or solution, they are getting the best outcome. Over time, the customer will continue to come back to you and look to you for additional solutions when needed. This is going to minimize pricing pressure from other suppliers, as well as hard feelings if something ever did go wrong in the long run.
Setting unrealistic expectations to win a deal is another tendency I commonly see in sales representatives looking to line their pockets. So many people have issues with saying “no” or explaining the limitations of their product or service. There are always nuances in business that can cause problems with a client-vendor relationship. Whether the issue lies with the product or pitfalls in the supply chain, it is extremely important to set expectations up front. This way, whenever something does go wrong, it doesn’t send the entire deal into a spiral. The best sales representatives are honest with their customer and let them know of common pitfalls up front. Selling a deal with those in the open will create a longer-lasting customer relationship with that foundation being built on trust. If a customer expects flawless quality and execution, then whenever an issue arises, the representative that sold to them will undoubtedly lose all credibility in the future. Customers always appreciate honesty – if a rep sets realistic expectations, then the entire deal will be easier and the customer will feel confident communicating with the salesperson throughout the relationship.
The final and most important way to overcome the stigma of being a greedy salesperson is knowing when to walk away from a deal. If a representative follows the first two points mentioned earlier (listening to the prospect and setting realistic expectations) and the prospect’s needs don’t fit, it is always acceptable to walk away. Winning a deal that doesn’t fit might yield immediate payment, but will cause issues and headaches in the long run. I often see salespeople win opportunities that were not a good fit, and they either lose that deal (burning a bridge in the process) or spend countless prospecting hours cleaning up a mess. Whenever I am mentoring new sales reps – this is a point I always stress. Being completely honest and upfront with a prospect, and then walking away if necessary, might build confidence that could open doors with that customer down the line whenever a different need comes up. A deal that isn’t the right fit is doomed from the start and walking away from it will give you the time to focus on partnerships that are long-lasting and will yield long-term positive results.
Want more from AJ Brasel? He was the star of episode 45: AJ Brasel – Selling through the channel and going from $80K/yr. to over $10M/yr. in 4 years at Clover Imaging