While shopping this past weekend I was approached by a gentleman named Jim, one of the best salespeople I've met in quite some time. He quickly identified my needs and walked me through his store's available options.
By asking the right questions, this pro was able to present solutions in the most compelling fashion possible. Jim was thorough, demonstrated concern, and had a sincere desire to help me in any way possible.
Did I buy from him? No. Did he want me to buy from him? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, Jim gave me directions to one of his competitors, where I bought exactly what he recommended. That's right. The last solution he presented wasn't his. Jim guided me to a product only available at another store.
As I said, Jim was one of the best salespeople I've met in quite some time. You see, it wasn't that Jim didn't have a product that met my needs; he did. It wasn't that he couldn't sell that product to me; he could have.
Instead, Jim decided to do the right thing. As a professional sales person, he felt an obligation to make certain I didn't buy a product that just met my needs, but one that was best for what I was trying to accomplish. He didn't offer it. Someone else did.
Jim understood what many other sales people don't. Most people don't want to be "sold." They want to be taught how to buy. They want to know how to make the best decision possible as they evaluate competing solutions.
Here are two important sales lessons to keep in mind when it comes to sales ethics.
1. Your job isn't to win a sale.
If sales people find a buyer who has a need for a product they carry and the means to buy it, they have a qualified prospect. From that point forward, their drive is to "sell" even if they know someone else has a product that better meets the buyer's requirements.
Short term, that may put some cash in the seller's pocket. Longer term, however, it hurts both the seller and buyer. The truth is, the buyer eventually finds out they could have bought something better and then harbors resentment and animosity toward the person who 'sold' him.
How does this affect the seller? Well, whom do you think the buyer will return to for future purchases? Who will they recommend to others? That's right. It will be the salesperson that guided them to the best solution. And that leads us back Jim.
2. It's all about trust.
You can be certain that when I want to be taught how to buy the types of products Jim's store sells, I will return to him. If he has what is best, I will buy from him. If not, I know he will guide me to the right place.
He gained my trust. I know when I engage with Jim, he will have my best interests in mind. When others ask who to talk to regarding these products, Jim will be at the top of the list. Jim thinks of the buyer first. Always. That's why he's the best salesperson I've met in quite some time.
I'll be back, my friend.
Bob Nicols has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He founded Burton Training Group, now AXIOM Sales Force Development, in 1990 after being a top and highly recognized performer in sales, sales management and executive positions within the technology sector. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN. AXIOM programs have been implemented in over 30 countries including Japan, the UK, Germany, Dubai, Brazil, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Slovakia, Sweden, and The Netherlands. Bob's highly energetic and insightful lectures and workshops have resulted in invitations to be a featured presenter at dozens of national and international sales meetings and conferences. He is a trusted advisor to the presidents and senior managers of multiple organizations, both large and small and has been a board member of a national technology company. Bob is the developer of AXIOM's “Selling Sciences ProgramTM” and co-author of the “Selling Sciences” CD series.