What does it mean to be a salesman or saleswoman in our new era? The requirements of how to be a salesman have changed. While they may remain the same as 20 years ago in individual companies, what being a salesperson is has totally transformed in the most critical place--the mind of the customer.
Interestingly, the public continues to have the old view of how to be a salesperson: backslapping, guffawing, baloney-talking money grabbers. Your typical consumer has not met a professional salesperson. I don't even tell members of the general public that I'm a sales trainer, because the reaction I got was very negative. They thought I showed people how to screw other people out of their money.
And so on the one hand, the public views salespeople as slimy tricksters who will say anything to get an order, while most B2B businesses are well aware that how to be a salesman or saleswoman and be successful today is a completely different point of view and skillset. Are many businesses still directing their sales staff to sign up customers for whatever they can get out of them? Sure. The mental image of used car lots is a typical example, whether deserved or not. However, such businesses are today losing the reputation battle. And that kills sales.
Let me share some stats with you that clearly tell the tale...Prospects today believe:
95% of salespeople talk too much
82% of salespeople fail to differentiate themselves
86% of salespeople ask the wrong questions.
(stats courtesy of The Sales Board)
Those are some huge stats. They show a massive gulf between what prospects expect and what the great majority of salespeople are actually doing. Clearly, the large majority don't know how to be a salesman today.
How can you be a more effective salesperson?
How To Be a Salesman Today
Listen more than you speak.
Stand out positively to the prospect.
Ask better, more insightful questions.
(Except at the beginning and ending of your sales conversations, when you must speak more to lay out the ground rules, you should be speaking 30% of the time and listening 70%. Are you?)
(Are the words that come out of your mouth and appear in your marketing carbon a copy of everyone else's in your industry? "...long list of satisfied clients...best in class...amazing features..." If so, change them now!)
(Are your questions Yes/No, or open-ended?)
Genuinely trying to understand your prospect's world is the key. Your prospect doesn't want a list of features and benefits. They don't want a demo. They want out of their terrible, unbearable situation RIGHT NOW, if only they can find a trustworthy solution! And what are you doing to help them succeed in that effort? Do you think giving a presentation as soon as you can will accomplish this?
Customers today want a problem solver, not a product pusher. That's how to be a salesman now.