Are you in sales? Are you sometimes embarrassed to say I’m in sales because you know some people are thinking Yuck, this gal must be a sleazeball if she is in sales?
I have been in sales over 25 years and I definitely know why salespeople have a bad reputation. Many salespeople are downright hated.
Come on folks, let’s change this. Stop acting like douchebags when you are selling and start giving the job title “salesperson” a great name.
5 Reasons Everyone Hates Salespeople
Reason # 1 – Salespeople are pushy
Does your sales organization teach you to do a second (or third) approach when your prospect initially tells you “I’m not interested” or “can you come back later”?
For years and years in sales, when I used to get an objection by a prospect, I was taught to keep plugging away at least three times until they slammed the door in my face. Phrases like “Oh, but this will only take a few minutes”.
And then I became a home owner and CEO of a business and salespeople were calling on me. That’s when everything changed.
When I lived in Austin, I had heard from my friend Bill about a green organization who helped cut down electric bills. I told Bill to have his rep call me. One evening my toddler was in the bathtub and my phone rang. I ran to get it and it was Frank, the guy from the green organization.
Frank launched into his sales pitch and I kindly interrupted him and said “I’m so sorry. My daughter is in the bathtub. I can’t leave her unattended. Can you call me back in about 20 minutes?” Frank said “This will only take a few minutes…” and he launched back into his sales pitch. I said again, “I really can’t talk right now”. Frank didn’t care. He kept talking.
I slammed down the phone. I was pissed. Within 20 seconds, I went from being a buyer to hating this guy because he seemed so desperate to make a sale he couldn’t even listen when I told him I had left my child in the bathtub.
If he had said “No problem, I’ll call you back in 20 minutes” he would have made a sale.
There are 3 types of prospects who initially blow you off
- Cold (just not interested in anything even if you are giving it away for free). They have a harsh tone in their voice and typically say “Not interested”
- Confused (they just aren’t clear on who you are or what you are doing). Oftentimes they say things like “What is this again?” or “Who are you with?”
- Inconvenienced (the timing of your call is bad) They say things like “Can you call/come back another time?” “I’m too busy right now”
I learned over time to walk away from cold prospects: “Have a great day. Bye”
When you stumble upon a confused prospect, simply start over and re-introduce yourself or say “Oh sorry, I guess you haven’t heard about me yet. I’ll start over (smile). My name is _________”
When you find yourself in front of an inconvenienced prospect, listen to their excuse and then respond respectfully.
Excuse: This week is really busy for me
Response: No problem. I can swing back by next week or the following week. Which is easier for you?
Excuse: I am super busy today (Monday).
Response: No problem at all. I am free Wednesday afternoon or Friday morning. Can I try you again then?
Excuse: I’m about to head into a meeting in 10 minutes (10am)
Response: No problem. How about I call/come back after lunch around 2pm?
When I was selling insurance business-to-business, I was referred to a real estate office where four agents worked. I walked in the front door and all four pairs of eyeballs were on me.
“Hi, I’m Kate Raidt. I’m the one talking to all of the businesses here in Elgin about a cancer insurance program. Do you have a place I can sit down?”
They said they were super busy because it was the end of the month. I said “No problem at all. How about I swing back at the first of the month when it’s not so busy.” I went back a few weeks later.
They said the timing was still bad. Once again, I replied “No problem, I’ll try you again next week”.
On my third attempt, the agents were all smiles. They said, “Come on in, Kate!” They proceeded to tell me that I was the first salesperson in 10 years who was respectful and not pushy. They said they even tested every salesperson who walked in their doors and told them “We are busy right now” just to see how they responded. Every. Single. One. (except me) launched into their sales pitch and didn’t listen to a word the agents had to say.
They all agreed to buy an insurance policy from me if I ever returned. Not only did I make 4 sales in one small office, but they referred me to every key person in town. As a result, I had my best year ever in insurance sales.
And it all stared with me not being pushy.
Takeaway: Don’t be a pushy salesperson. Read your prospects well and listen to their objections. Walk away from people who are cold. Clarify what you are doing with people who are confused. And find a better time to approach prospects who are not in a convenient place to talk to you.
Reason #2 Everyone Hates Salespeople – They Seem Desperate
Did you know that making yourself unavailable makes you more enticing for people to want to do business with?
Did you know that by keeping a strict, modified schedule and not being at everyone’s beck-and-call will actually improve your sales?
When you call around to find a new dentist, and dentist #1 has an available opening tomorrow but dentist #2 is booked solid for six weeks, which one seems to be the better, more sought-after dentist? The busy one, right?
In sales, people want to do business with the ones who are sought-after and have credibility.
When I started my insurance career, I worked 12 hours each day. Evenings. Weekends. Whatever it took. Then I had a baby. Record scratch. I thought my career was over.
When my daughter was 6 months old, I chose to start selling again very part time. I worked Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am-2pm. That’s it.
When people said on Thursdays “Can you come back tomorrow?” I kindly replied “Well, now that I am a mom, I have a very modified schedule. I only work Tuesdays and Thursdays during the day. So the next time I will be out here is next Tuesday.”
Guess what happened? Many people would say “I don”t want to have to wait. Let’s go ahead and talk insurance now.”
I didn’t appear desperate or pushy. I communicated that my new baby was my priority over sales and people respected me for that. I sold just as much working two days per week as I had the previous years working eight days per week. Insane.
Learning how to work smarter (not harder) became the basis for my book The Million-Dollar Parent: How To Have a Successful Career While Keeping Your Family a Top Priority.
Takeaway: Don’t appear desperate to make sales. Make yourself unavailable and be hard to catch. Sales becomes a whole lotta fun when people are chasing you down – not the other way around.
Reason #3 Everyone Hates Salespeople – They Are Unethical
Ugh, we have all been screwed, misled or scammed by a salesperson. So wrong on so many levels.
If you currently work for a company who asks you to practice unethical or illegal business tactics to make sales, it’s time to find a new job. Today.
If you are bending the truth, over-promising and under-delivering on what your products or services offer or you are flat out scamming people, it’s time to have a Come To Jesus conversation with yourself.
There is one simple question you need to ask yourself: How would you feel if a salesperson treated you the way you are treating your customers?
What I have seen after almost three decades in sales is that salespeople who do not sell ethically also carry those bad habits into other areas of their life. They are lying to their spouse and children. They are lying on their taxes. They are lying to their friends and business partners. It all catches up to them and eventually the Ethics Police captures them – and it ain’t pretty, y’all.
Takeaway: Don’t ever be an unethical salesperson. Better yet, don’t be an unethical person.
Reason #4 Everyone Hates Salespeople – They Target Friends and Family
Have you received a Facebook friend request from an old friend you haven’t seen in 10 years – and moments after you accept the request she sends you a sales pitch for some products she is selling?
Or have you bought products from your nephew just to be nice and help him out and days later he quits his new sales gig?
I have seen all sorts of friendships ruined over sales. Salespeople have got to understand the importance of calling on total strangers to build their business and not target friends and family. It is the only way to have a sustainable long-term sales career anyways.
Reason #5 Everyone Hates Salespeople – They Rarely Say ‘Thank You’
This hurts my heart. It takes 5 minutes to write a hand-written thank you card, but very few salespeople do it anymore. Note: a text message or email does not count.
If you want to have respect in your community, establish a long-term relationship with your customers, be considered a likable person others will refer you to, and stand apart from the competition, write a thank you card to every single customer.
To date, I have written over 4,000 hand-written thank you cards. It’s been worth every penny.
Time to recap. If you want to be a likable, respected salesperson, do the following:
- BE KIND – Listen to objections and be willing to walk away or come back
- DON’T SEEM DESPERATE – Timing is everything in sales
- ALWAYS BE ETHICAL – Enough said
- SELL TO STRANGERS and DON’T TARGET FRIENDS
- SAY THANK YOU – Always
What part of this article do you find the most helpful?