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.
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.
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.
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.
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