A lot of people in the sales business seem to think that there is a standard expectation of what a “good sales person” is supposed to sound like. We’ve built up this idea that a “good sales person” is supposed to be relentless, energetic, good at building relationships, always eager to close the deal, and unwilling to take “no” for an answer.
Some of these traits are true, while some can be counter-productive if left unchecked. But one surprising lesson I’ve learned from my years of experience in the appointment setting industry is that some of the best sales people don’t act at all like the stereotypical “good sales person.”
If you want to boost the performance of your sales team, you might want to consider taking a new approach and training your sales people to say some of these surprising things that you wouldn’t expect a sales person to say:
“I don’t know the answer to that question.”
Sales people often pride themselves on knowing all the answers. They want to quickly be able to solve a client’s problem and put a prospect’s mind at ease. The problem is, if your sales people are too quick to provide “the answer,” they are missing opportunities to dive deeper into the prospect’s problem and identify the root cause of the prospect’s pain. There are often bigger sales to be made through a longer-term consultative approach, rather than simply giving “the answer” upfront.
There’s usually no single ideal solution, especially for the most lucrative B2B sales opportunities. Instead of claiming to always have the answer, the best sales people know how to say “I don’t know…let’s talk further about this.” That’s where you can build deeper sales relationships and uncover bigger sales opportunities.
“I’m not going to sell you what you don’t need.”
The biggest fear of most B2B buyers is that they’ll get sold on some solution/system or service that they don’t really need. Buyers can’t expect to know all the details of what you’re selling – that’s why they’re in the market for the product or service that you sell. The challenge is, some sales people try to upsell a client even when it’s not appropriate. Instead of taking a long-term approach that accounts for the client’s needs, these sales people try to maximize their immediate commission by selling a bigger package of solutions today.
The best sales people are willing to help their customers save money, even if it means making a smaller sale. Great sales people focus on building long-term business relationships, not short-term transactions.
“I’m sorry but I can’t deliver what you need.”
The stereotypical “good sales person” is always agreeable and always wanting to say “yes” to a customer request. Their instincts are good – they want to provide solid customer service – but unfortunately sometimes the best sales people have to say “no.” If a sales person can’t deliver what the customer needs – whether it’s a certain package of solutions, a certain price or a certain delivery date – the sales person needs to notify the customer up front.
Great sales people know that it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver – so if a sales person knows that their customers aren’t going to be able to get exactly what they’ve asked for, the sales person needs to let them know.
“Please tell me more about your requirements.”
Stereotypical sales people are often reluctant to ask too many questions or drag out the requirements-gathering process. Instead they want to shift focus to closing the deal. This is a mistake.
The best sales people will invest time upfront in asking questions, getting details, and digging into the underlying problems. By learning more about the requirements, the sales person gets better informed about the client’s problem, identify the scope, and recommend better solutions.
The best sales people aren’t afraid to say no, ask questions and give up short-term revenue in exchange for a longer-term relationship. Don’t get dazzled by sales people who seem to have the stereotypical traits of a “good sales person.” Instead, hire (and promote) sales people who surprise you.
Ultimately, the surprising secrets of great sales people are all about building credibility. If a sales person shows humility (by admitting when he/she doesn’t know the answer), builds trust (by not pushing hard for an unnecessary add-on purchase and by not making false promises) and shows sincerity (by asking questions and digging deep to identify the customer’s requirements) then customers are more likely to believe that the sales person is looking out for their best interests.
Credibility and building trust can have a massive impact on closing sales. If customers trust you, they will reward you with long-term business relationships that are far more valuable than a single transaction.
Surprise  Photo via Shutterstock