Even highly experienced and successful salespeople can have a blind spot. They can be so intent on what they want to accomplish that it’s easy to ignore how others view them. And it isn’t always complimentary. “Oh, don’t take Sally seriously. Just remember that she’s in sales.” In fact, salespeople find themselves on the bottom rung of the public’s trust ladder year after year.
Going into sales can be like having three strikes hanging over your head everyday: instant distrust, not being taken seriously, and getting more rejections than you deserve. What’s amazing is that so many stay in the field even after struggling to find significant success.
To cope with these negatives, salespeople have another “job,” and that’s marketing themselves more effectively. Here’s how to go about it:
1. Define yourself. Cultivating how others perceive them should be the number-one priority for sales professionals. With everything being instantaneous these days, including being judged by others, there are no second chances. No one takes time to figure them out or has time to make an effort to get an accurate picture of what they’re all about.
The salesperson’s “other job” starts with identifying those characteristics that customers value and respond positively to as well the characteristics that repel them.
When salespeople ignore the process of defining themselves, others will do it for them. And the chances are that the results will not be favorable.
2. Share what you know. Having the right skills is basic, but salespeople often ignore the critical role knowledge plays in attracting customers and closing sales. Today’s customers look for evidence that a salesperson possesses the level of expertise they expect from those they work with.
One of the most effective ways to demonstrate competence in a digital world is blogging. Whether it’s making your ideas, experience and knowledge available by email, on your website, in industry publications or by posting on LinkedIn, sharing what you know is an excellent way to connect with prospects and to let customers know why it’s in their best interest to work with you.
3. Be on time. It may seem like a minor, relatively unimportant, or overly compulsive issue, but being on time is a performance benchmark. Having a reputation for being late sticks; it doesn’t go away. “Don’t give that assignment to him,” the manager said. “He never meets deadlines.”
4. Don’t talk about yourself. Some salespeople just can’t resist trying to impress prospects and customers by inserting themselves into the conversation. It’s easy to forget that those we speak with are interested in overcoming their problems, having their needs met, and pursuing their opportunities instead of listening to a salesperson “stories.”
It’s your solutions, not your “war stories,” that get your customers’ attention. When you give them what they need, they’ll be quick to tell others what you have done for them.
5. Develop a give-and-take style. What today’s customers are looking for in a salesperson is dialogue, not a sales pitch. They want someone who takes time to interact with them, answers questions and retains their patience. Customers want to make the best possible decisions, not live with regrets.
What this takes is a “give-and-take” style that focuses on what customers are thinking about and wrestling with. It isn’t just a matter of having the right information. It’s more about having an understanding of what’s involved in making a purchase, whether it’s a large item like a car, an intangible such as insurance, or something as seemingly ordinary as a pair of jeans.
Salespeople would do well to recognize what customers are looking these days. Transparency and authenticity is what “clicks” with them. Building that sense of trust is the salesperson’s “other job.”