(This article originally appeared on Deb Calvert’s blog)
It’s such a simple concept. Nevertheless, there are so many sales people trying to sell something they don’t believe in or don’t understand.
It confuses me when someone says they are a competent salesperson but they don’t particularly care for the product that they sell. For me, personally, I would never choose to sell a product I didn’t fully understand and absolutely believe in.
Does that make me less of a salesperson? After all, we sometimes use the antiquated phrase “He could sell ice to an Eskimo” to talk about sellers who are so skilled they could sell anything to anyone.
I’m not that kind of salesperson, and I’m proud of that. At the same time, that does not mean I have only sold the very best products. In fact, throughout my sales career, I have sold and trained others to sell products that are sometimes viewed as being lower value than competitive products.
So how did I manage to believe in those products? Why didn’t I jump ship and go to the strongest competitor instead? Because I believed that the products I sold were the very best products for certain buyers.
Not everyone wants or needs a Cadillac. The top-of-the-line choices are not meant for every single buyer. I was proud as a frontline seller to offer a wide range of products to meet a variety of needs.
What enabled me to believe in the products I sold was this simple truth: I took the time to make a match between what each individual buyer needed and the unique product that I offered to that buyer.
When asked to participate in sales blitzes or other campaigns that required me to sell the same thing over and over again, regardless of buyer needs, I didn’t. Either I refused to participate and made up the sales in other areas, or I worked far enough ahead to make sure the people on my blitz list were the ones who actually needed the product being sold.
I know enough about myself to know that my authenticity as a seller was a big part of why buyers trusted me and accepted my recommendations. My inability to sell them something they did not need is what differentiated me from other sellers they worked with at competitive companies. I wasn’t about to compromise my integrity for the sake of a single sale.
There are some sales professionals who represent products they don’t personally believe in. They don’t use the products themselves. They wouldn’t suggest those products to family members or close friends. It shows.
As a buyer, you’ve probably been able to spot those sellers. They say all the right things about the features of the product, but they can’t quite make the case authentically and compellingly for why you should buy that particular product.
Unfortunately, not all buyers are savvy enough to see through a seller’s lack of belief in their own product. Some sellers are so motivated by the commission and so well-versed in tricky techniques that they do make sales. Ultimately, buyers feel duped. The sellers make commission, and I suppose they sleep well enough at night.
But this is exactly what erodes the nobility of sales as a profession. When a seller does not meet buyer needs and does not sell products he or she believes in, that seller becomes the stereotypical salesperson all buyers try to avoid.
For me, I know that selling a product I believe in feels better and works better for me. I receive buyer loyalty, long-term relationships and a feeling of gratification when I’ve helped someone by selling them what I believe will genuinely help them.
When I don’t operate that way, I don’t receive the same feeling of having done something noble and worth doing. Being driven by that feeling, wanting to receive that gratification of having helped someone… that’s what drives me as a seller. And it’s worked well for over 25 years.