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Samantha’s Guide on How to Not Suck (as a Salesperson) Part 1: Talk to Me Like a Person, Not a Company.
My name is Samantha Walters and I am what you would consider a “millennial executive” over here at Colocation America. Every Monday (get it, get it, Samantha on Mondays – the S.O.M column) I will write a little something on whatever is on my mind from business practices to current events and everything else in between.
This week’s topic is about sales:
If you are a frequent reader of the S.O.M. column (shout-out to those 2 people) you may have noticed that I took a couple weeks hiatus from writing. Don’t worry, nothing crazy has happened, I have just been listening to, oh, 100 sales pitches. Ok, ok, it has not been 100 but, according to my calendar, it is around 30 different sales pitches in the last two weeks. This amounts to nearly 25 hours of my life dedicated to people telling me how awesome they are (thank you to the awesome app Hours for showing me this depressing stat). That is over one full day of my life listening to “this is perfect for you” and “it doesn’t cost that much.”
Which brings me to a point: 75 percent of sales people kind of suck.
Now before you sales people send me hate-mail or boycott me, hear me out. It’s not you, it’s them. I promise, you are among the 25 percent doing something right! Just by you reading this, you are taking a step in the right direction towards improving your pitch and becoming a better salesperson (am I selling you on this article yet?).
Which brings me to Samantha’s Guide to How to Not Suck (as a Salesperson). I have decided to make this part of a series, so behold:
Part 1: Talk to Me Like a Person, Not a Company
Now, I might be alone on this one but I am not always a fan of talking solely about business on, well, business calls. Here’s the thing: I am a person with feelings and a complete life outside of work. Crazy? I know, right?! To highlight my point, here is a quote from the movie Across the Universe, “Why is it always what will I do? ‘What will he do,’ ‘What will he do,’ ‘Oh, my god what will he do,’ Do, do, do, do, do. Why isn’t the issue here who I am?”
I feel like this all the time with sales pitches. The issue is not what will I do but who I am. Think of it this way: You are selling a product to a person not a company. If I reached out to you, I already know my company needs something you offer, right?
So here is an idea, talk to me like you just met me in a supermarket—whatever comes up naturally is fair game to talk about. For example, tell me you’re a rock star and play the bass (hey there, McKenna), or that you got Flash Passes to Six Flags (what up, Coleman). And if I am having one-of-those-days and bring it up, it’s all good to joke about it with me for the next two weeks (howdy, Alex).
At some point, the conversation should turn from what your solution is (and how it will help solve a problem) to what the person on the call thinks. More specifically, the conversation should be about the person. After all, being a salesperson is all about relationship building. At the end of the day your product may be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if I don’t like it (or you) then it doesn’t matter.
Did you catch that last line? Go back, reread it… Yep, it does say “you.”
Who you are matters just as much as the product does. Think about it, when a client signs a contract with you they have probably never used your services before. They are trusting you, the salesperson, about the product. You’re the person they have built a relationship with for, gosh, so many hours as they tried, without ever actually trying the product out, to ensure that your product is the right solution for their company.
Your job, first and foremost, is to build a relationship with the client. Sometimes people do not vibe well together and that is ok. Then again, sometimes the client is awesome (like me) and all you want to do is talk. Whatever it is, it is your job to make a friend with that potential client.
Think of it this way, if your friend was selling something you needed, would you buy from them? If the price is right (or maybe even a bit higher than the others), you are more likely to go with them because, hey, it’s your friend, right? Heck, if your friend jumped ship to another provider, I am sure you would go with them (if it was not too much trouble).
To sum it up, people buy things from friends.
To highlight this point, here is a story: I was once asked by a Senior Vice President why, after three years of talking with his company, I have never signed up. My answer was simple and yet I hated myself for saying it: I did not like the sales representative that was assigned to my account. Now the sales rep I was referring to was not my first account rep with the company nor was it my second. All of that was fine—I can roll with changing account reps—but what I could not stand was that this dude never talked to me like a person. So when the moment came up to sign the contract and I had two other companies to choose from (similar product and price point), I chose the person I liked the most. It was that simple.
So dearest sales friends, before you take that next call think of what your friend Samantha says about sales: It’s all about building a relationship and making a friend. And if that next call happens to be with me and we become friends, I promise to buy you that first beer (or wine or, heck, let’s just do a shot).