Promise A Lot, Deliver More - Sales Management
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SECTION: Sales Management

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Promise A Lot, Deliver More

Written By Roy Chitwood

Article Date: 06-01-2006
Copyright (C) 2006 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Are you making sales or just filling orders?

  How many times have you heard someone say, "That person is a born salesperson"? Many times I’ve followed that statement with a request that the person expand on the comment.

What do you mean when you say, "born salesperson"? What attributes would a person possess that leads you to draw that conclusion?

Invariably, the characteristics are that he or she is a good talker, has the "gift of gab" and an outgoing personality, is charming and friendly, has a sense of humor, is engaging, is quite persuasive and has personality plus.

While these traits are observed frequently in those who sell, are they really the characteristics of a true sales professional?

Identifying Top Performers

A charming, outgoing personality can be very magnetic but as with any relationship, the luster can fade if there is nothing substantial behind it. I find, more often than not, that people are looking for a salesperson that is honest, has integrity, is truthful, and, more important, cares about the needs of the client and possesses a genuine desire to serve them.

Furthermore, the attributes of trustworthiness and integrity are what separates true sales professionals from the sea of mediocre charlatans masquerading as salespeople.

In-depth research of the top 3 percent of outstanding sales professionals has shown these top performers share two common characteristics:

  • the ability to establish rapport with their customers
  • the ability to create an atmosphere of trust in all sales relationships
These vitally important traits do more than endear these sales professionals to their prospects – they are also the best way to secure repeat business and ensure every sale "wears well."

What’s A Sale?

I find many times that sales executives are confused by or unaware of the difference between customers simply buying a product or service and a salesperson that is actually selling. Just because a customer has parted with money in exchange for a product or service does not mean a sale occurred.

For example, a prospect calls your dealership about purchasing a product you have on the lot and the customer and salesperson find a price they can both live with. The salesperson writes up the sale and schedules the delivery. Despite the fact that this may seem to be selling, it isn’t. This scenario is merely an example of a salesperson filling a customer’s order.

In contrast, when a salesperson — in addition to letting the customer know the dealership has the desired product — asks questions about the customer’s equipment needs and learns the customer has landed a job in a type of work he hasn’t done before.

With the additional information, the salesperson realizes the customer actually needs a larger machine or an entirely different product altogether. The salesperson then proceeds to discuss the other options with the customer.

That is selling. It's not just filling an order; it's establishing rapport, gaining trust, determining a need and then meeting that need.

A salesperson's sole purpose is to be of service to the customer. As a salesperson, you should only make promises you can keep - and you should keep every promise you make.

A professional salesperson makes a sales call for only one reason - to be of service to the customer. If your product or service is not right for the customer, you have no right to sell it. However, if it is something that will benefit the customer and meet his or her needs, then the professional salesperson has a responsibility to sell it.

I frequently hear sales executives complain that their salespeople will say and do anything to get sales and make their quotas. Unfortunately, a salesperson that's over-promising and under-delivering creates multiple problems, untold friction, and significant internal dissention between sales personnel and the support personnel who are responsible for carrying out the unrealistic commitments.

Every employee is either selling or "un-selling" for the company every hour of the day. It is crucial that salespeople understand their responsibilities to their customers and co-workers.

If an employee is unable - due to an impossible timeline, lack of resources or product availability - to follow through on promises made by a salesperson, that employee will, through no fault of his or her own, be un-selling the company.

To prevent this, salespeople should not over-commit when it comes to promises about what the company can offer. If the company can't deliver, the sale will fall apart, as will the relationship with the customer.

More importantly, the company's reputation can suffer irreparable damage. In these times of stiff competition, a smart company knows a solid reputation may be the only thing keeping them ahead of the competition.

It is the responsibility of the sales organization to balance a desire to serve the customer and make the sale with the realities of what the company, whether it is boundless in wealth and resources or modest and greatly limited, is able to offer. Only when this balance exists can the salesperson effectively communicate with, deliver to and serve the customer in a way that is consistent with his or her promises.

If you want happy, satisfied customers who continue to return for a lifetime, refer their friends and colleagues to you, and offer the kind of word-of-mouth advertising that money can't buy, learn the difference between filling an order and actually making a sale.

When you've established trust and rapport, are well-versed in what your firm has to offer, and are sincere in your desire to serve your customers, you will find it's easy to promise a lot - and always deliver more.

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Article Categories:  Management  »  Sales