I have spent about 25 years in ‘sales’ if you’ve read other entries of mine you will know I hate the term Sales. To me the word brings up bad connotations, sleazy slick salesmen, telemarketers who call during dinner. I much prefer to think of my self as a consultative partner to my clients and developing long term client relationships. Anyway back to the reason I am writing this; I am continually astounded by the stupid things people in sales do, it blows my mind. Like I also have mentioned before, I am not sure you can teach someone how to be a good sales person. I once said to a career coach that I tried to treat my clients like I would want to be treated, he said to me ‘Andrew, every sales person wants to do that. You have consistently done it very well, most people fail miserably with it.’
What brought on this posting and the tips I will share is helping my mother buy a new car. My mother is the type to know what kind of car she wants by how it looks, test driving is secondary. She picked out a car, I researched it online, told her what packages I thought she should get and then she was going to go test drive the car. She told me that when she got to the car agency her sales person who she had an appointment with was running late, he kept her waiting. He took 3 phone calls while sitting with her. He quoted her a price for the car, when she asked for it in writing he wrote a higher amount. When she went to test drive the car a kid from the agency went with her. New cars have all kinds of fancy safety features; blind spot indicators, lane change help, navigation systems, back up cameras. She told me the kid didn’t know how to use any of them. I was most concerned with the blind spot indicator warnings, how they worked, would she find them useful or would she find them distracting while driving. They had told her the navigation system was voice activated, I told her to test it to see if it does in fact understand her voice, the kid didn’t know how to use it. The car she is looking at is a BMW 528xi – all of the options I have mentioned add $12,000 to the car. My concern is for her safety so if the features work she should get them. The salesman did not give her his card; he has not called to follow up. Over the summer my mothers husband was also buying a car; he told me stories that shocked me about sales people not calling back, talking on the phone. Oh, I forgot, the first thing my mothers salesman said to her was that he used to work at Lexus and he was in the top 5 salespeople in the country. My mothers husband did end up buying a Lexus, but it was almost like he had to track them down to get them to pay enough attention to him so he could buy it.
Now, it might sound like I am picking on car salesmen, we all know the cliches about them. But I have seen similar behavior in almost every job I have ever had. Sales people introducing themselves and start listing their accomplishments. Thats an immediate turn off to a client; your meeting with them is to learn more about them and to not talk about yourself. I have seen colleagues and superiors too not return clients phone calls or emails for days. I think its a best practice to respond to a clients email immediately and let them know you’ve received the message and give them a time frame for when you can fix the problem or call or whatever. So many things that some completely naturally to me other people don’t do. In my last job I was able to work with sales directors, vps, sales reps and it was shocking to me how few could actually show up on time, listen to a clients goals, ask the right questions and then make a follow up meeting. Common sense and politeness go a long way.