(This article originally appeared on Deb Calvert’s blog)
It’s time to stop faking it. Set aside those social niceties if you expect them to stand alone. Stop being a sycophant. Stop pretending you care.
Buyers do not like superficial or artificial interactions with sellers. You’re damaging your own credibility and giving our entire profession a bad name. Knock it off!
I know, I know. You want to come across as someone who cares about the buyer. In your haste to be perceived that way, you’re doing absolutely everything wrong.
There’s a whole lot more to caring then going through the motions. Not only that, but these cheap attempts to show you care are the very same ones being used by virtually every other seller out there.
If you want to be seen as someone who cares about the buyer, how about this? Genuinely, really, truly care about the individual who happens to be a buyer. When you think of it that way you’ll be forced to adapt some new behaviors.
Caring requires you to do what’s right for the other party. It may even require that you set aside what’s right for you for the time being. This is not to say that you will shy away from selling. But it does mean you will sell what is truly right for each individual buyer.
Sellers who don’t care approach every buyer the same way. They don’t take time to understand the buyer, what the buyer values, or what the best solution would be for that unique individual.
Instead, they come across as overly solicitous. They try to manipulate buyers by fawning all over them or complimenting them or latching on to tenuous connections between them. But more and more buyers are completely turned off by these behaviors.
You’re no different. Think about what you do when a chirpy telemarketer calls you at an inconvenient time and acts as if you are lifelong friends and attempts to butter you up so they can make a sales pitch. You don’t like it, and neither do your buyers.
If you’re doing this, you know it. You know it because it never feels quite right. You may have been doing it for such a long time that you’ve become a bit inured to your own discomfort, but you never really feel like yourself when you’re selling. Or, worse yet, you have become comfortable and you stay in a salesy mode at all times with all people. No one knows the real you because you take no time to understand or know them either.
This week I took a call from a salesperson who had obviously taken a little time to research me before calling. She opened by saying how excited she was to talk directly to me. She praised my blogs. She complimented my radio show. She congratulated me for writing an award-winning book. I’d already seen her name as a visitor to my LinkedIn profile. When went on and on, though, just gushing in generalities. She laid it on thick and just kept going and going. I couldn’t tell, initially, if this was a sales call or a stalker. So I asked her a question about which blog she liked best, trying to see if she could provide specifics and if we could get to the point of her call.
That’s when she really blew it. She said “Oh, well, now I’m on your LinkedIn page. I see you did something at, ummm, Northwestern. I went to U of I Champaign and we used to play them.”
Really? I didn’t even know what to say.
That’s all it took to reveal her superficiality. She didn’t know anything at all about the substance of my work. She was grasping at straws because she had nothing else to work with once I engaged with a question.
With no place left to go, she launched into a sales pitch. It turns out she was selling a product that I am interested in learning more about. But my distaste for her approach and phony baloney overrode my interest. How could I ever trust her in anything after that insulting and manipulative demonstration?
So I did the one thing that almost always guarantees a seller will not call me back. I told her that, as a sales trainer and coach, I felt obligated to critique her performance. I haven’t shared anything with you here that I didn’t tell her first.
In those two minutes, she learned a lot about me and what I value. I even dangled a few clues about why I needed her product. Her response? She said “I was in sales training last week, and I have a lot to catch up on. I don’t have time for more sales training today. Goodbye.”
Pretending you care isn’t the way to warm up buyers. Even those who fall for your flattery will catch on to your insincerity. It’s much easier to authentically care.