Honesty And Sales December 1, 2008Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
Tags: Relationships, Sales, Trust
Selling is hard. The uncertainty and day-to-day stress are more than I could handle on a regular basis. Yet I have friends in sales who love every minute of it, from the first cold call to closing the big deal.
I once had a chance to be in sales, sort of, when I spent about 18 months as a consultant. Since I was a C-level consultant, I got pulled in to help close the sale and provide some pre-sales services in an effort to win the business. I was working with some great people who taught me a lot about selling, but they could never eliminate my insecurity about each and every pitch.
That experience further cemented my deep respect for salespeople and deepened my desire to treat them accordingly. I view vendor relationships as long-term commitments that build over the years as a mutually beneficial arrangement. I don’t ping-pong between vendors, and I’ll work hard to stick with a vendor when times get tough or the situation starts to deteriorate. In return, I expect the same level of commitment in return, including good advice, solid support, and reasonable pricing.
I don’t like to waste salespeople’s time. As you can imagine, I get dozens of sales calls a week. Most get screened; a few get through. When I do take a call with a new salesperson, I always begin the conversation the same way: I describe my vision of the perfect sales relationship and immediately set expectations with the new person.
For many initial sales calls, I am still learning about a company or a product. In some cases, I don’t foresee an actual need for a product for a year or more, but I want to learn about it now so I can factor it into my planning. If that’s the case, I’ll state that up front. The bottom line is that I don’t want to waste time, either mine or the salesperson’s.
Salespeople waste a lot of time working with potential accounts who misrepresent their short- and long-term buying intent. It is frustrating to work hard to win some business only to discover that the customer had no intent of buying all along. That time would have been better spent with a more qualified account that would have yielded a real deal.
Conversely, I waste a lot of time dealing with salespeople who do not have a prayer of closing a deal with me but insist on not giving up. Trust me: if I tell you there is no deal in the works for a certain time frame, I am telling you the truth for your own good. Go pursue more promising accounts and come back later when we might be able to do business.
My best sales relationships last for years and result in success on both sides of the table. My company gets good products with great support at a fair price. The vendor gets my continued business and a customer who will turn to them first when a need arises. What more could you want?