To be honest, I can’t stand salespeople. They drive me nuts. I know what I want, I don’t need their help and I do not want someone forcing a product on me that may or may not be the best suited for my needs. This sentiment doesn’t surprise me, our culture and experiences have trained us to be weary of salespeople. They bother you by mail, on the phone and when you walk into a store. Frankly, it is just plain annoying. However, salespeople can be more than just annoying, they can be unethical. Many of us have been burned by an unethical sales approach. We have bought into a ‘pitch’ only to find out that we had been taken advantage of or that we bought something that really doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. It is unfortunate, but there are a lot of very able salespeople that make this approach a common practice and apply their skills in an inappropriate manner. This is why I don’t blame the client. They have been given every reason not to trust salespeople.
The real irony of this article is that ‘technically’ I am a salesperson.
However, the real shame is that not all salespeople are what they are perceived to be. There are a lot of us out there that always have the client’s best interest at heart. No matter what the client’s issue is, it’s more about solving it, than trying to make a product fit a solution it is not best suited for.
One advantage that I have is that by being a material handling systems integrator, I am not a distributor of one particular brand of product. My company has established relationships with multiple manufacturers. This allows us to select the most appropriate mix of products to create the best solution to a client’s issue. We don’t have to explain why our brand is better than ‘their’ brand. We can explain how, through analysis and industry expertise, we recommend a particular solution. We analyze the strength’s of the manufacturer’s product against the needs of the client. I love this approach. It is more consultative approach then a sales approach and I can add value to the customer’s operation.
So what’s my problem?
I have to fight even harder to overcome the initial wall that is built in front of me that protects the customer from the dreaded ‘salesperson’. It is amazing the level of distrust a customer can have during the initial stages of your relationship. They shake with their right hand and have their left on their wallet.
Do we make money? Sure we do, every company needs to make money to pay employees and keep the lights on. However, just because someone is making money on a transaction doesn’t mean you aren’t getting value from it as well. Not only is there a lot of time in the proposal phase just to be awarded the project, but the company has to successfully execute in order to re-coop the costs of the time, risk and intellectual property offered during the pre-sale process. Many salespeople looking to ‘close the deal’ may compromise their company’s ability to successfully execute the project by slashing budgets to be the low cost provider. True value on a project is only recognized after a project is commissioned. At that point it becomes clear whether the promises or claims made during the sales process were merely a ‘pitch’ or an actual reflection of a company’s ability and strengths.
What’s the bottom line?
Not all salespeople are ‘out to get you.’ Judge the individual, not the title. Let someone help. You might be surprised at the benefit you receive.