I Envy Good Salespeople (Not The Bad Ones)

I envy a good salesperson.

A good salesperson is an entire set of specific skills and some unique personality traits all rolled into one enviable package. You have to be able to read people and understand their motivations, and be smart enough to customize your pitch to them based on their motivations.  You also have to be confident enough to hear “no” quite a lot, even multiple times from the same person who may eventually say “yes.”

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad salespeople out there, too. Bad salespeople don’t know “when to say when," can’t read their audience accurately, and will keep pushing their pitch as if reading from a script, but can’t read the signs being given by their target customer.   Bad salespeople assume that what they have to sell is what you’re going to want to buy, regardless of the circumstances.

I deal with good salespeople, great salespeople and sometimes a few really bad salespeople.  The really bad ones are the ones who call me with a product or service, trying to pitch me on it, but don’t take the time to understand what my most immediate challenges are.  This is Sales 101: Know the motivations of your audience.  If I have five important challenges I’m trying to  solve over the next few weeks, and these five challenges take up the vast majority of my time, then your pitch should align with solving one of those five challenges.  If your pitch is out of left field, it will be falling on deaf ears. 



As a marketer, I take calls all the time. If the pitch is one that could be a fit for us, I politely send the salesperson in the direction of someone on my team who would be able to listen and work with them.  If the pitch does not align, I politely say no thank you and move on.  Sometimes I get a stubborn salesperson who asks the same question in a different way. I don’t appreciate that line of questioning, because the call quickly moves from prospecting to an attempt at persuasion, and likely one that won’t work. 

Conversely, some salespeople can read those signs and will ask if they can reach back out in a few weeks or months, when things have settled down and I have the bandwidth to hear more about their pitch.  This is a great tactic when dealing with me because it makes me feel as though you understand my predicament and are willing to be patient, work as a partner and not treat me like some name and number on your call sheet.

Inside sales, outside sales, cold calling and prospecting -- all of these tactics are a necessary piece of any marketing program and one I subscribe to completely, but there are rules that can drive success in these areas.  Knowing your customers, respecting their time and understanding when things are a fit as well as when they’re not -- these are important characteristics.  It’s really no different from being targeted in your advertising.  It’s about reducing waste (impressions and time), increased efficiency (in your calls) and driving higher performance (in customer acquisition). 

Taking no for an answer is not a sign of defeat, but a sign of respect for the process.  All sales and all marketing have inefficiencies built into them.  It’s impossible to reach the right audience 100% of the time because there are too many outside factors to possibly know them all.  The performance comes from the process and knowing your audience.

So the next time you make a cold call, or reach out to a prospect, before you dive into your script, be sure to take a second and align with their needs and ensure your pitch doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

I promise it will help you in the long term, and might result in fewer “nos” over time.

2 comments about "I Envy Good Salespeople (Not The Bad Ones)".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Jay Stein from Salorix, October 16, 2013 at 1:34 p.m.

    Kudos on your assessment
    It's a shame that most Ad-Tech firms think that their platform and its features/algorithms and benefits trump the need for the skill required to find, a buyers "most pressing needs" and hire accordingly, leading to more power points and demo dumps on a buyer without mapping a problem back to the solution that they are tryong to sell

  2. Al DiGuido from Optimus Publishing, October 16, 2013 at 3:17 p.m.

    I feel incredibly blessed that I spent my early days going thru Ziff Davis sales training. I haven't seen another organization that put as much time, effort and resources into building and training salespeople. What you describe here is the table stakes in consultative selling. TOO often I have seen salespeople rush in to tell a prospect all about their company before giving ANY air time to understand the needs of the client. For decades in every business that I have run...a HUGE sign hung on the wall in every sales & marketing area...with two words..NEED & SOLUTION....If you don't train salespeople to understand the client's need and their competitive will never provide a solution/recommendation that is relevant, interesting and/or sales worthy. Somewhere along the way we have given "lip service" to sales training. Until companies start to committ the resources and focus required to insure that they are building and maintaining a quality sales team....the status quo will prevail...alot of order takers and "biz dev" professionals who truly don't get it.

Next story loading loading..