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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

More by this author

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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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