One of the things I love most about my job is talking with marketers and business owners about their businesses. In the past couple weeks, I’ve had hundreds of these conversations and you know what? Customers are sick and tired of lackadaisical sales efforts.
Here are twelve of the things they wish sales people would step up their game on in a big way:
1. Persistent initiative
It may seem as though they are not interested, but it could be that they don’t know what you’re getting at, or they don’t see how it helps them. No doesn’t always mean no. Sometimes no means “you haven’t said anything I care about yet.” I’ve had customers tell me they were glad I kept on talking, even though they initially told me “no.” Most people, once they realize you are in sales, will react negatively. It’s a knee jerk reaction; a defense mechanism. It’s just how they have been conditioned. You may need to break through years of negative conditioning, and usually that means not giving up the first time they say “no.”
Often sales can seem to be so caught up in their agenda that they forget to tell the truth, or fail to mention some small bit that could make or break the value for a customer. You are better off telling the truth and losing the sale than losing the customer and subsequently losing a lot of sales.
3. Customer service
Unless you have cornered the market on what you do, the only difference between you and your competitor often times is the level of service you provide. Make doing business with you an amazing experience for your customer. The products will sell themselves.
4. Attention to detail
“This ain’t rocket surgery.” ~ Mike Kunkle
Or maybe it is. Either way, customers are tired of sales making silly mistakes with their futures. Take the time to carefully manage projects as though they were rocket surgery and your customers will love you for it.
Marketing has done a great job of packaging and programming goods based on their perceptions of what the customer needs; which is great if you have but one customer. If you have more than one customer, you need to be flexible and find a way to match each customer’s needs.
Make it easy to buy. Think of your favorite retailer. They do everything they can to help you get your wallet out and give them your money. If you’re in B2B sales, you need to be doing the very same. Customers are tired of antiquated clunky sales processes.
Sometimes selling is not as important as being helpful. Park your quota a moment and keep the end game in mind. Lead your customer to the best decision for them, even if you can’t get a sale out of it. Don’t just spout answers. Ask questions that help them discover a solution that makes the most sense for both of you.
Timing is critical for most businesses. Speed to market can mean the difference between capturing a ripe market and sitting on a pile of really good, but a few days late stuff. Sales needs to match cadence with a customer’s buying cycle and help them be in the right place at the right time.
If you make a mistake, admit it. Customers will admire you for it. They realize everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone lies about it. Own up and make it up to them somehow. Also — get ready to clean up someone else’s mess. I have yet to meet a customer who hasn’t been abused somehow by a sales person. Humbly pick up the slack and you will have a lot more influence.
10. Great execution
The world is full of great ideas. Execution is the hard part. It’s what makes the difference between a gold and a bronze medal. Whatever it is you do, do it the absolute best you can or don’t do it.
11. Servant leadership
A little other-centeredness goes a long way. If you can show that you are truly in my corner and you are helping me get where I want to be, who wouldn’t buy from you? Lead by serving and you are much more likely to get referrals. Everyone needs someone like you in their life.
Most of my customers are so busy just trying to keep on keeping on that they have very little time to think about what could be. Either that or they are bored stiff from the day in-day out making it happen out there. Showing them an oasis of hope and cool stuff can make all the difference. Even if it’s not your product, inspire your customers and show them something that quickens their pulse.
What are your customers missing about sales? Sales done right can be a pleasant experience, and can make you a rare individual. Ask what you can do to turn things around.
Featured image courtesy of Calamity Meg via Creative Commons.