Too often, salespeople get a bad rap. When the average person thinks of a sales rep, they imagine pushy, inconsiderate and generally insincere individuals who will do or say anything to close a deal. Popular culture only perpetuates these negative images. In movies like Wall Street and Glengarry Glen Ross, salesmen are depicted as ruthless, sociopathic and criminal.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Truly successful salespeople know that honesty and empathy are key to making great sales.
Understanding your customers
To be a great salesperson, you have to know where your customers are coming from. Use CRM intelligence to get a better handle on your potential buyer’s world; however, don’t use customer analytics to hurl data points at your prospects. Yes, it may communicate to them that you’ve done your homework, but it probably won’t help you make a sale. Use this information to truly understand what it is your customer needs. Then you can think about your role in helping them achieve it.
Understanding your customer’s background is a little different than actually being in the room with him or her. Being keyed into your client’s emotional state can help you better guide the conversation. Emotional intelligence can be hard to learn, but there are some ways to practice. According to Natalie Grace for the Houston Chronicle, practicing self-awareness can help you to better understand the thoughts and feelings of others. When you can identify your own emotional triggers, you will become better at noticing them in others.
Be a good listener
Part of being an understanding salesperson is knowing when to stop talking. As S. Anthony Iannarino puts it on the Sales Blog, a huge part of emotional intelligence is the ability to listen. Salespeople often put a lot of effort into changing people’s minds. However, without really understanding why someone believes what they do, these efforts are going to be in vain.
Ask good questions
If a prospect has already decided they don’t want what you’re selling, they may not say what they’re thinking. A good salesperson knows how to ask the questions that will make prospects open up.
Know when to stop
Not every pitch will end in a sale. Some clients truly don’t need or want what you’re offering, at least right now. An empathetic salesperson will know the difference between hesitation and determination. For prospects that truly have no intention of buying, persistence can be a waste of time. Being too pushy will certainly not make you look good. End on a pleasant note–it’s possible you may hear from them again in the future.