Sometimes, it’s not too difficult to paint all salesmen with a wide brush— like in the Gallup poll of career trustworthiness. The 2012 survey placed car salesmen dead last at an 8 percent approval rating, even below the 10 percent ranking for Congress, and way, way, below nurses, doctors, pharmacists and dentists who all claimed the top spots. The generic “advertising practitioner” also ranked pretty close to the bottom as did insurance salesmen.
It seems, then, that consumers, on the whole, don’t have the highest opinion of people who are responsible for selling things.
But, as anyone who sells anything for a living will tell you, these particular guys and gals listed in Gallup don’t speak for the whole industry, and there are some excellent salespeople around who you don’t hear about. Plus, good selling can be more than trying to interest someone in something like a car or an insurance policy— it’s about communicating and finding ways to make someone’s life better.
The largest and the smallest companies need at least one person tasked with bringing in the customers, whether it’s someone focusing all their mojo on trying to secure a million-dollar electronics contract or sell a bunch of hand-made decorations at a craft fair.
But no matter what kind of product someone is trying to sell or the amount of time they spend pounding the pavement or smiling and dialing, the question always comes down to how well they can convince a consumer (whether in a B2B or B2C arrangement) that you are the kind of people that they can happily do business with.
What Does It Take to Be That Person?
A recent infographic from Sales for Life shows that there are certain qualities customers like to see in whoever they choose to do business with— not necessarily the product or service they’re hoping for, but the individual trying to make the transaction happen.
The overall data shows that, not surprisingly, a person’s expertise and trustworthiness can go a long way in making or breaking a sales-based relationship. The study also points out some other areas which could increase the likelihood of engagement, including:
Being considered a ‘thought leader’ in their industry (92 percent of purchasers)
Being able to provide insights not just about the particular product or products they’re trying to sell, but their whole industry. (86 percent)
Receiving an introduction from someone in your professional network vs. someone cold calling (88 percent).
The same study showed that buyers use Twitter and LinkedIn to help their research and the purchasing process. In fact, just about half of B2B buyers represented in the study used LinkedIn in the last year to make informed decisions, and 63 percent of higher-level managers use LinkedIn to research and support their purchasing efforts.
It also created a funnel of the modern sales process, starting with the traditional transformation of general traffic into possible leads, then into prospects, finally customers. But this funnel has been enhanced with modern-day online tools, such as blog posts and social media that build traffic, and move into leads.
Tools like landing pages and webinars can turn leads into prospects, and further case studies and blog posts could lead to customers.
Traditional sales skills don’t come easy to everyone, of course, but many who have started out shaky soon picked up some of the tricks of the trade, and now do well.
Overall, by educating your sales team, and then having them share that knowledge with your customers, you can go a long way in making yourself look like the kind of people that they would want to do business with.
RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.