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15 Sad Truths Only Salespeople Can Understand

15 Sad Truths Only Salespeople Can Understand

Cold calling? Trying to close a deal when the going is tough? Insane customers? If you are a salesperson, you know these scenarios are just a few of those that make up your nightmares. Customers are our bread and butter, but here are 15 things that, maybe, they just do not understand. Time for straight talking.

1. You know a bargain is irresistible but there is no need to riot.

It was an eye opener for me when shopping riots broke out on Black Friday, not in the USA but in London, UK! The rush for those discounts together with some stores opening at midnight led to scuffles. Police were called to quell 15 mini-riots. Now, pity the poor sales assistants as they have to deal with bargain hungry mobs every November.

2. You know the customer is always right, but . . .

You know that most times, the customer is always right. That’s the gospel. The reality is that 97% of people are sane, rational, and courteous. But what happens when a the small number of crazy persons starts displaying insanity to test your patience to its limits?

They also start to treat you as a doormat. This can degenerate into insults, threats of physical abuse and dire consequences if the client does not get immediate satisfaction, money back, apologies and so on.

I once read about a customer who was furious that her query posted on Saturday at midnight on the company’s Facebook page had not been answered. It is really tough being in the front line if you are in retail.

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3. You know all about the effort in putting on a happy face.

Having a happy face and smiling at the customers is expected. Problems arise when you have to start faking. The experts call this “emotional labor.” If a customer treats you badly, then you are going to pay a high price for trying to hide it by just smiling.

A Singapore Management University study showed that the people who had tried to fake it were liable to suffer from insomnia, anxiety and depression. This sort of emotional strain can be just as tiring as physical or mental work. Service with a smile is hard work.

4. You do not control everything.

This is the hardest part of being a salesperson as many people think we have been actively involved in stocking extra large sizes, or creating the returns policy or the length of a guarantee. We do not actually make the products we are selling. Yes, I have been taught to listen and empathize and I will try to help you solve the problems but there are certain limits.

5. You know I cannot offer you a discount.

If a customer tells me that they have seen exactly the same item at Wal-Mart with a lower price, are they really expecting me to start haggling? I am tempted to say that they should have gone there to shop, but I never do that!

6. You are not a babysitter.

If you work in retail, you may dread those family shopping outings where all the kids come along. As they wander down the aisles, the family breaks up. The kids are out of control or have simply vanished. That’s when the salesperson becomes a babysitter and has to then try and locate the parents. There may be tantrums when a parent finds them. Spanking, threatening and yelling all follow.

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7. You have to prepare for business-to-business cold calling.

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you have received a cold call from me, you may think I am repeating a script. But, actually, I have read all about your company and know what kind of services you are looking for, and what your problems are. Just listen and give me a chance. Want to know a secret? I have read and studied Art Sobczak’s book called Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure and Rejection From Cold Calling.

8. You do not want to be left in limbo.

When salespeople are told “I’ll think about it and get back to you,” over and over again, they know that this is a delaying tactic or an expression of non-interest. If it is the latter, just tell me and save me a lot of time and effort. I’ll get over it!

9. You had to learn the art of selling yourself.

How many customers realize that training in the actual selling process is almost non existent? You either have a natural talent for it or you acquire a few basic selling skills along the way. It is hard slog learning from failures especially when customers think selling skills are pretty obvious. If only they knew!

10. You know that every sale counts.

Most salespeople when selling to companies are relying on closing a sale in order to make their weekly quota of sales so that they get paid a decent, living wage. The next time a salesperson comes across as being insistent, just don’t think that their wages are going to be unaffected because, very often, they are.

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11. You have to face rejection and failure.

“I’m not judged by the number of times I fail but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.”- Tom Hopkins, author of Selling for Dummies.

Losing a sale after a lot of effort, phone calls and research can be a hard blow to a salesperson and yet it happens all the time. The sales manager wants results yet you feel that you should be getting a lot more support from her. The best solution is to see the humorous side, learn the lessons and resolve not be put off and strive for success.

12. You may have to put up with ignorance.

Often, difficult clients will make a sweeping statement about your profession or company. They may offend you by making totally unfounded and offensive remarks. A typical one is that accountants are just expensive calculators. This is just a reflection of his or her ignorance about the rather complex work that accountants do. The best tactic is to stay silent and reflect that they have rather limited experience of how things really work in today’s world.

13. You have to solve problems after the sale.

Let us imagine you are selling a product or service which will involve you in some after sales service or feedback. This will be an important part of the follow-up so you may hear complaints that deadlines are not met or that the product is not working.

14, You are crazy busy.

The sad fact is that you have only about 30% of your time to actually meet prospective customers as the rest of your time is spent in travelling and doing all the administrative work. You may have to make a persuasive presentation to groups of clients and there may be a lot of time spent in preparing it. The great challenge is to avoid getting into too much detail and being too long-winded. You would like to get more coaching but that rarely happens.

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15. You know that educating clients is much more effective.

There is no need to push our products’ benefits and features. The secret is to find out what is happening in the sector and how your new product will meet these needs. Educating your client is much more effective. Your product is different and can solve their problem.

How have you coped with the challenges involved in selling? Let us know in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Car Salesman/Lucy Woods via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 15, 2019

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

This is an article I didn’t want to write. Even if it appears that way on the surface, few things are black and white. Between the two colors is a world of gray. Notwithstanding the bosses who behave criminally, some of the people who carry the “bad boss” label have possibly been, or have the capacity to become, a “good boss.”

This is an article I didn’t want to write because I understand that depending on whom you ask, many of us could be labeled either a good or bad boss.

Perhaps another reason I didn’t want to write this article is because context matters. Context for the organization and context for the individual. What is happening in the organization? What is the culture? Is the “boss” in a position for which the individual is equipped to do the job? Is the person in a terrible place in life? The office culture, the relationship a team member has with a boss or board and the leader’s personal life can all influence how the person shows up and leads and how others perceive the individual.

But since I am writing this article, I will share a few signs that bosses are bad and in need of a timeout.

1. Bad Bosses Don’t Know and Haven’t Healed Their Inner Child

If you plan to lead people – well, if you plan to effectively lead yourself – you must get reacquainted with your inner child. Just because you are in young adulthood, middle age or the golden years doesn’t mean your inner child matches your chronological age. If you experienced trauma as a child, your inner child may be stuck at the point or age of that trauma. While you walk around in a woman’s size 10 shoe, your behavior may showcase an inner child who is much younger.

In a June 7, 2008, Psychology Today article, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D., observed,[1]

“The fact is that the majority of so-called adults are not truly adults at all. We all get older … But, psychologically speaking, this is not adulthood. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. We are told by society to ‘grow up,’ putting childish things aside. To become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child—representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness—must be stifled, quarantined or even killed. The inner child comprises and potentiates these positive qualities. But it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers.”

Sometimes the key that your inner child needs tending to is conflict with someone else’s inner child.

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Good bosses are aware of the ups and downs of their childhood, have worked or are working to heal their inner child and are aware of their triggers. Good managers use this awareness to manage themselves, and their interactions with others. Bad bosses are oblivious to how their inner child impacts not only their life but the lives of others.

2. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Accept Feedback

Bad bosses are not intentional about creating an environment where their peers and colleagues can share feedback about their leadership. They don’t solicit feedback. Given the power dynamic that managers, CEOs and others in leadership yield, they must go out of their way to solicit feedback, and they must do so repeatedly.

Before being completely honest, most team members will test the waters and share low-stakes information to get a sense for how their boss will respond. If the boss is angry or retaliatory, team members are less likely to risk being candid in the future.

So being unable to accept feedback takes on two forms: failing to proactively and repeatedly ask for feedback and reacting poorly when feedback is shared.

3. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling to Give Timely Feedback

The flip side of accepting feedback is giving feedback. Both require courage. It takes courage to open yourself up and accept feedback on ways that you need to grow. Similarly, it takes courage to share honest feedback about a team member’s or colleague’s performance or behavior.

Since not everyone is open to accepting feedback, whether they’re a manager or not, having an honest conversation about areas a team member or colleague has missed the mark, is not always easy. Still, good bosses will find a way to share feedback, and they’ll do so in a timely fashion.

Withholding feedback and sharing it months after a situation has unfolded or in a snowball fashion is unhelpful to the employees. One of the ways we grow as leaders is through feedback. When people have the courage to tell us the truth, that information allows us to progress.

4. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Acknowledge Their Mistakes

Owning their mistakes is like a disease to bad bosses; they do not want it. Instead of being risk averse, they are accountability averse. The problem is that they can only gloss over their weaknesses or failures for so long; the people around are able to see their flaws and weaknesses, and bad bosses pretending they don’t exist is not helpful. It is infuriating.

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However, bad bosses are masterful at reassigning blame. They are unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for mistakes — small or large. But career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC “Make It” in May 2017, that “good managers also admit their mistakes.”[2] They don’t pass the blame or pretend they didn’t make a mistake. They own it.

5. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling or Incapable of Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability is an underrated leadership skill. But well-placed and well-thought out vulnerability enables employees to see their leaders’ humanity, and it creates a way for leaders to bond with their teams.

Bad bosses may talk about vulnerability, but they don’t practice it in their own lives, particularly in the workplace.

6. Privately, Bad Bosses Do Not Live Up to the Organization’s Stated Values

Bad bosses may publicly spout the values of the organization they work for, but privately they either don’t believe or don’t embody those values.

If they work for an environmental group, they may not practice sustainability in their private lives. Their words and actions are incongruent.

7. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Inspire Others

When bad bosses are unable or unwilling to take the time to inspire others, they lead through fear or command. Neither are helpful.

A culture dominated by fear will stifle creativity and risk taking that can lead to innovation. An autocratic management style will have a similar effect in that team, members will not feel they have the space to step outside of the box they have been placed in.

A good boss is someone who takes time to share the big picture and time to inspire their teams to want to be a part of it.

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8. Bad Bosses Are Disinterested in How Their Behavior Impacts Others

They are narcissistic and focused on self-preservation. In “19 Traits of a Bad Boss,” Kevin Sheridan said,[3]

“Terrible bosses are endlessly self-centered. Everything is about them and not the people they manage or what is going on in their employees’ personal lives. It is never about the team, but rather all about how good they look. Conversely, great bosses lead with integrity, honesty, care, and authenticity.”

Rather than seeing their team’s talents and seeing people’s full humanity, bad bosses believe their team exists to serve them. Families, personal life and priorities be damned. Bona fide bad bosses believe that their comfort should be prioritized over their team’s needs and desires.

9. Bad Bosses Have Likely Received Negative Feedback

Bad bosses have likely been told that they are poor supervisors. They have likely been told time and time again that their behavior is harmful to the people around them.

Perhaps they do not know how to change or are unwilling to change. But bad bosses certainly have received clues, insights and direct feedback that their management style and behavior are harmful to others.

Even when someone hasn’t explicitly said, “Your behavior is harmful to me and others,” the absence of feedback indicates a problem. It can mean that the leader’s team doesn’t feel safe enough to share feedback, that people do not believe the leader will act on what is shared, or that people have determine the best strategy is to avoid the boss as much as possible.

10. Bad Bosses Are Perfectionists

Bad bosses are driven by an internal urge to be perfect. Perfectionists don’t just want to be perfect; they want everyone around them to be perfect as well. This is a standard that neither they nor their team can live up to.

Since perfection is illusive, they spend their time chasing their shadow and being frustrated that they cannot catch it. They are unable to enjoy the journey and often block others from doing so as well. They let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Rather than embracing a growth mindset that desires to learn and improved, they are compulsive and toxic.

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If you are like me and you see yourself in parts of this list, do not despair. A bad boss can change. The key is seeking honest feedback and being willing to work through that feedback and your triggers with a therapist or coach.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your age and the mistakes you have made, you can change and become a healthier leader whom others respect and appreciate.

Conversely, if you are employed by a bad boss, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. Understand that your boss’s behavior, even if directed at you, is not about you. Your boss’s reactions, if and when you make a mistake, is a reflection on that individual, not you.

To survive the work environment, think about the lesson you are meant to learn. You can do this with a trusted therapist or capable coach. However, if you deem the work environment to be toxic and harmful to your health, seek employment elsewhere.

In the end, this is an article I did not want to write, but I’m happy I did.

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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