Sales conversations; two words that can create excitement for those on the selling side and apprehension, fear, or irritation on the buying side.
Why is that? Why are there such different reactions to a conversation between two people (or two groups of people)?
It’s because of experiences and perception of salespeople.
While the world has evolved so too have sales practices. Collaborative sales conversations work well with time-starved and knowledgeable buyers. And while I truly want to believe that old manipulative selling tactics are long dead and buyers should embrace professional salespeople because we can help them with their problems, opportunities, wants, and needs, some sellers continue to use poor sales practices that continue to contribute to the “used car salesman” reputation.
I was on the receiving end of all kinds of selling practices last week when I was shopping for a used vehicle with my 18 year old daughter. We were ready to buy immediately as she had totaled her car a week earlier in an accident that we are grateful didn’t take her life.
Our shopping experiences at supposedly reputable car dealerships ran the gamut. We were pitched at, lied to outright, and steered toward vehicles that did not fit our criteria (style, budget, mileage, and safety record). We were also welcomed warmly, asked relevant questions to guide us, provided relevant information to make a decision, and encouraged to make the best decision for our situation.
What these sales experiences reconfirmed for me:
- Selling is not a necessary evil. It is often just plain necessary to help someone make a purchase decision. In its purest form, selling is guiding someone else in making a decision or commitment to action about your product or service.
- Being ethical and focused on What’s in it for Them (your buyer) will easily differentiate you from the competitors. Don’t think that focus is too simple to really count.
- The salesperson matters—a lot. So much, in fact, that we nearly purchased a vehicle from a dealership that had tried some shady things after the purchase decision was made because we appreciated the approach and work of the salesman. We later walked away after the finance manager changed the price on the final documents. The good news is that led us to another dealer with a helpful, effective salesperson, Jeff James, at Earl Stewart Toyota in Lake Park, FL.
- It’s not just about the selling conversations. The conversations that follow the purchase decision matter too. Alignment between the sales and internal teams creates a positive customer experience that will bring your buyers back again and again.
The crux of sales conversations then is that they are still relevant and valuable to the buyer and seller. You make them count when you keep the conversation and entire purchase process centered where it belongs, on the buyer.