Stop Beating Up the Sales Guy!
Sales: Let me guess, an image of a sweaty used car salesman just popped into your head trying to up sell you on a car you didn’t come to the lot to purchase. Or better yet an insurance salesman, the wonderful category I get placed in! Thank you old school guys for creating such a bad stigma for our entire industry!
I digress, let’s get to the point – I am writing this particular blog in reaction to some of my recent abuse but to also be a tribute to all sales people that work their tails off every day with little respect and admiration. Fair warning, this blog will be pointed more towards the trials and tribulations of the group insurance industry, but for all you seasoned sales veterans I am sure you will be able to relate.
Every business, I don’t care what industry, is driven by sales. Every successful company has employees that build their sales force and drive growth. So think about this for a second; that would mean that a company without good sales people would fail? That is correct! If you are not selling, you are dying. My college wrestling coach always used the following quote: “You are either getting better or getting worse, there is no such thing as status quo.” With that being said, I think every organization needs to put more merit and respect into their sales personnel. These people might be fast talkers, over achievers, early morning folks who drive you crazy or the outgoing personalities that scare the ever loving you know what out of introverts, but you should thank these folks as their production is keeping you and multiple employees working.
Let’s face it good sales individuals are some of the most resilient folks you will ever meet and I think every organization has a lot to learn about adversity and overcoming challenges from their sales force. These people get out of bed every morning expecting to be told “NO” and yet they still get out the door and tackle the world. They head into everyday knowing they are going to face challenges and rejection, but still continue to put on a smile and make the calls, have the meetings and wait pain stakingly for final decisions. To top it off, the majority of their annual income, which pays their bills and puts a roof over their families head, is based upon them getting after it and finding the low percentage of opportunities that say “YES.” Most people are so afraid of rejection that they avoid every possible scenario in their life that someone could possibly turn them away, yet sales men and women just know that “NO” is one step closer to a “YES.” Sales men and women are some of the toughest and most valued employees any organization will have, so why the abuse?
Let’s get down in the dirt with this conversation…Why do decision makers (could be many different people depending upon what product or service you are selling) treat sales people so poorly? I mean literally downright rude, nonresponsive, angry and disrespectful. I understand that we all have our own perception of sales people in our minds due to a bad past life experience, but we cannot let one experience or a few multiple experiences apply a stigma to entire industry of great people. So I am going to make a few small requests to you decision makers out there for your future encounters with sales ninjas…
Honesty – Every time you speak with a sales person you should be courteous enough to give them an honest “YES” or “NO.” If you are not interested that’s fine, just tell the individual NO. Don’t hide behind your email and VM for months on end hoping the individual will go away. Giving an honest answer and feedback is imperative to a sales person closing the book on an opportunity and also learning how to do better in future opportunities.
Respect – Be respectful of sales people, they are no different than you are, in fact they are most likely tougher and more resilient. Show them respect by being courteous and valuing what they so passionately believe can be a solution for you or your company. Again, if at the end of the day it’s not a fit, simply tell them NO and provide VALUABLE feedback.
Empathy – Show understanding for the sales individual if your answer is NO. He or she may have been depending upon your opportunity as a way to take their family on vacation, have a date with their spouse, do something nice for themselves or meet their annual company goals. Don’t send a generic email on a Friday afternoon with generic text saying “we really like you and your organization but unfortunately we have selected another vendor.” Be real!
Stop Wasting Our Time – For whatever reason there is this misunderstood thinking that sales people have unlimited disposable time that is free for decision makers to waste?!? Sales people bend over backwards to juggle schedules and meetings every day. If you are not interested in the product or service on the front end just don’t take the meeting. If you are not interested after the initial meeting, just tell the sales expert NO. Do not bleed sales folks along and play games by hiding behind your technology like you were abducted by aliens and no longer exist. Time is valuable to every single individual, stop assuming that sales people have infinite time to play your games!
The next time you have the opportunity to meet with a sales expert, I just ask you to take a second and remember this article. All people like to be understood and valued, take every opportunity that ends with a “NO” as an opportunity to help them in the future. – TJ Morrsion