Sell Me Right

I have little patience for the dance of the sales pitch.

Although I understand the objective of a salesperson and their role, I find the pitch process to be painful. I dread the process so much that I do my best to make it easier for the salesperson by being clear about my needs, priorities and expectations.

I do this to avoid  the dance of buzz words and having to try to figure out how they actually translate into my needs. If I start hearing words like “synergy” or “collaboration,” my eyes glaze over and I daydream about weekend plans or my next vacation.

I’m not callous or unkind but if I’m putting forth the effort to have a mutually beneficial working relationship, the least a salesperson could do is meet me halfway and pay attention.

I’d like to share a few interesting and surprising observations this week from a social recruiting and networking  event that I attended.  Perhaps you’ll be able to relate to them from your own experiences.

Be prepared and check your facts

The event was basically a trumped-up sales pitch to a large group of recruiting professionals. I didn’t initially doubt the credibility of the product but when the salesperson used statistics and metrics that were not able to be quantified upon request,  credibility declined.  Any salesperson who will stand in front of 200 people and casually throw out a statistic without being prepared to defend it is risking their own professional reputation as well as that of the organization.

Know your product and maintain composure

Being a natural people observer, I get a kick out of taking in the reactions and expressions of others.  A participant asked, “Why should I use your product instead of product X, which has a broader reach in social networking?”  The salesperson made a few sarcastic comments about product X in a bad attempt to be funny while looking for the next raised hand.  He never answered the question.  The same participant pressed the salesperson further, “But why your product?”  The expression on the salesperson changed, he became slightly defensive, started to waffle and quickly shifted to a broader topic while dismissing the participant.

Know your customers and be empathetic

As the event was drawing to a close and the salesperson welcomed additional questions, a participant voiced her concerns about not being able to reach a human being when she had questions on the product.  The salesperson apologized and mentioned that perhaps she was not an “upgraded” client which implied that she didn’t deserve to speak to a human.  She stated she was and to that he said, “I am so sorry for that, there is no excuse for that.  You should call your sales rep immediately.”  To which she replied, “YOU are my sales rep.”

What are your thoughts? Do these scenarios surprise you?  I’d love to hear your comments, opinions and stories!

About the Author

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberly_patt, or at kim@unconventionalhr.com.

9 Comments

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April Kunzelman

“Know your customers and be empathetic.” Love this. I find this to be what annoys me the most. The people who have bothered to get to know my needs, who have taken the time to ask questions, are the ones who end up with my business. I’ve found they’re also very responsive when I have a question or problem.

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Kimberly Roden

Thanks for your comments! Skye, you hit the nail on the head. I firmly believe that the best skill any salesperson has is listening. Like Charlie said, canned presentations don’t work and all that does is scream that no one did their homework or listened to the needs of the customer. I honestly believe that anyone can sell when they’re focused on the WHO vs the what or the why. Yes, there needs to be knowledge of what is being sold but knowing how the needs of the customer can be met makes any relationship between and salesperson and a customer and win-win.

Thanks again for your comments and Happy New Year!

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Charles Judy

good post, kimberly. ahhhh, sales. the oldest profession next to prostitution. isn’t that interesting? anyway…i always say the mark of a good salesperson is the abilty to hit a curve ball. canned presentations mean nothing to me. you must sit across the table and answer my questions that are tailored to my environment, my needs, and my ambitions. so many can’t (or won’t) do this. and if they can’t or won’t, that’s a clear sign it’s time to move on to the next qualified organization. thanks for the post!

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Skye Leary

Thank you for the insight! As an evil salesperson myself, I have heard this type of feedback (and seen others do just this). While I am not perfect, I find that the best way to differentiate yourself in a highly competitive industry (an industry that doesn’t have the best reputation either) is to listen to your clients and prospects, answer their questions honestly and as straightforward as possible- an “I can’t answer that for you now, but let me do some digging and get back to you” can go pretty far, as long as you follow up and follow through with the “getting back to you” part. I’ve also found that people hate to be sold to, but they love to be listened to and then have a tailored solution presented to them in a concise, non-flashy manner. Thank you for the input!!!

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