It turns out that all those crazy sales techniques might just be pushing clients away!
Yep, that’s right! The word is in and it’s this: consumers hate pushy salespeople and sneaky sales techniques.
But don’t take my word for it.
What Consumers Think About Salespeople & the Sales Industry
Arianna and I hit the streets of New York City one Friday to find out what people thought about salespeople and sales as an industry. We wanted to know if sales techniques actually work, and how sales as an industry is perceived overall.
- We’ve had clients that can’t get deals off the ground.
- We’ve had clients that have experienced radio silence like it’s nobody’s business.
- We’ve had clients that simply don’t know what they’re doing wrong.
Ditch the Sales Techniques
I have good news! It’s not you, it’s the sales techniques!
Check out this short video from our street survey:
Now, I know what you’re thinking—the responses couldn’t have been all bad. And you’d be right. Check it out:
Q: “What comes to mind when you think about salespeople or sales as an industry?”
60% of participants had an initial response that was negative. They used words like “sleazy,” “stress,” “corrupt,” “fraudulent,” and “pushy.”
20% of participants had an initial response that was positive. These participants said things like, “
20% of participants had an initial response that was neutral. These participants said things like, “[salespeople] bring more options,” but then also pointed out setbacks, such as sneaky sales techniques.
Perhaps most telling was when we asked participants question number two.
Q: “What needs to change about sales, if anything?”
The response was overwhelmingly similar. Nearly every single participant wanted the same things out of sales and salespeople: “integrity,” “honesty,” “knowledgeability,” “listening to what people want.”
What do these results tell us?
As a discovery-based training organization, we’re always looking for new ways to grow. We had an inkling that we would hear things like the above, but what we weren’t expecting was the overwhelming negative perception surrounding the industry. That’s to say: the perception is quite a bit worse than we were expecting.
So, what do we do about it?
Well, it sounds like it’s about time to trade in sales techniques for a sales process. Rather than “trying out” sales techniques on prospects and clients, how about opening up an honest dialogue instead?
3 Ways to Shift the Industry
If you are any of the above and want to help change the perception of sales and salespeople in the world, here are three suggestions to facilitate change:
Choose to Operate from a State of Integrity
Charles recently wrote an article on how to build lasting client relationships. His first suggestion to building lasting relationships is to “honor your word.”
The current state of sales has a pretty bad rap. Salespeople are known for being manipulative.
The only way to change this perception is to do everything in your power to be the opposite.
- Don’t over-promise, and DO keep the promises you do make.
- Don’t BS when you don’t know something. Instead, be honest—let your prospect or client know that you’ll have to check with another person/department to get the answer.
Hold yourself to a higher standard. As the wise Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Get Your Team Involved
It’s one thing for you as an individual to decide to change something.
It’s an entirely different thing all together for a group of people to band together to incite change.
Get your entire sales team involved in the movement. Mention this article, the video, and the hashtag #discoverchange during your next team meeting.
All you have to do is start the conversation—then watch what happens next. My guess is that you won’t have very many people on your team saying, “no way, I love being perceived as sleazy and corrupt! I’m never changing!”
Think of ways that you as an individual, your sales team as a group, and your company as a whole can help change the perception of sales.
Focus on Process over Techniques
Sure, there are plenty of great sales techniques out there—and a lot of them work!
My point is not to say don’t use techniques so much as it is to say this: focus on your process as a whole over quick tips-and-tricks techniques.
Example: we have an internal Sales PlayBook and also help our clients to develop Sales PlayBooks that are specific to their company and processes. Let’s pull out one of the five sections: prospecting.
A typical company might have twelve or more sub-sections under prospecting. There’s the prospecting action plan, a process for targeting, a process for asking for referrals, networking, cold calling, phone scripts, and so forth.
This is where sales techniques come in—including tried-and-true techniques will likely show up in the sub-sections of your sales process (documented in your Sales PlayBook). But here’s the thing: it’s the process as a whole that sells.
I hope this article got you thinking! I’d love to hear your feedback on the ideas shared here—what did you think about the video? And what about changing perceptions? Comment below and keep the conversation going!
Let’s #discoverchange together.