Are Salespeople Obsolete?
By Richard F. Libin, President, Automotive Profit Builders and author of just released book “Who Knew?”APB.cc, email@example.com
We live and breathe technology, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are always on. In fact, there is a diagram circulating on social media showing a dinner table place setting with a designated space for a mobile device. While meant to be humorous, it is reality more often than not. With billions of bytes of data at our fingertips, do customers really need salespeople or are they obsolete?
The answer is yes, but the role of the salesperson has changed. Traditionally, salespeople have always done two things for their customers: communicate information and sell. They believed (and some still do) that if you didn’t get the immediate sale, you would never get it. Today, these two basic functions no longer provide adequate value.
If you are a salesperson who focuses on selling as hard and fast as possible, with a goal of doing business now, then yes, you may be obsolete. As a salesperson, if you believe these two functions make up your job description, then it is time to ask yourself if you have the ability to change.
Today, a salesperson’s job profile can be defined by three simple functions:
Salespeople are responsible for helping customers find and select the right product or service. To do so, they must...Be 100% present and work with a single-minded focus for each customer. The formula for success is simple. When you give 100% attitude, effort and performance in a positive manner, you will get the desired results. If you put your best foot forward you have a better chance of getting what may have been one or two missed opportunities.
Ask probing questions to develop an understanding of each customer’s unique wants, needs, and desires. It’s not about what you think; it’s about what the customer thinks.
Listen, learn, and empathize with the customers. Understand problems from their point-of-view and discover small details in order to successfully guide the selection process and find an exact fit.
Help the customers “try it on.” Throughout the introduction and including a demonstration of the product, if applicable, the salesperson should guide customers as they experience the features that will satisfy their needs, wants, and desires. The salesperson should help customers build an emotional bond and fall in love with their product or service.
Introduce customers to the rest of the “family,” giving them a tour of the business or store, introducing them to everyone, not just the managers, and explaining that they are there to provide for their total needs. Begin to convert customers to long-term clients.
Help the customer “fall in love with his choice.” When this happens, price becomes a secondary concern. Financial discussions and negotiations should be the last thing brought up and take the least amount of time in the entire transaction.
For example, in the past, if the customer spends an hour with the salesperson, 10 minutes is spent on selection and 50 minutes on negotiating price. Today, this is a sure-fire formula for disaster. Instead, the salesperson should spend 50 minutes of the hour helping the customer select the right product or service and 10 minutes on price. This approach brings the customer greater satisfaction at the time of the purchase. It delights the customer who will rave about his experience, refer his friends and colleagues, and ultimately become a loyal client. We are not saying that price is not important; however, if a salesperson succeeds in helping a customer find the right selection, then price won’t be a barrier to the sale.
Convert customers to clients. The salesperson’s job does not stop at the close of the sale, yet most customers never get a call once they leave a store. That call is actually the beginning of a long-term relationship. Why don’t salespeople call? For most, it is fear of rejection or not knowing what to say or how to say it. Follow up calls are essential and can be successful if the following steps are used.Have a purpose. Understand the outcome you want from the call. Do you want a referral or additional sales, or to cement a relationship with the client?
Know what you want say and plan the gist of the conversation. Write it out.
Be prepared for the customer to lead you down another path. Know how to bridge back to your original plan.
Make the follow-up a continuation of the positive purchasing experience. Start a conversation that gets customers excited about their purchase all over again. This may lead to a referral for a friend who might be looking to do business with you.
So how do you start learning to sell all over again in our information-rich world? Start with this essential first step. Every day when you get out of bed, and several times during the day, say to yourself, “My job is not to sell, but to help my customers find the exact product or service that meets their needs, and in doing so, to make sure their experience is positive.” Adopt the right attitude every single day. Make this your mantra; say it, repeat it, and believe it. Only when you embrace this idea, can you continue your journey of continuous learning that is required to face a world of continuous change in the new world of sales.
Richard F. Libin has written two acclaimed books that help people of all walks of life improve their sales skills, because as he says, “Everyone is a selling something.” His most recent book, Who Knew?, and his first book, “Who Stopped the Sale?” (www.whostoppedthesale.com), is now in its second edition. As president of APB-Automotive Profit Builders, Inc., a firm with more than 49 years experience working with both sales and service professionals, he helps his clientele, through personnel development and technology, to build customer satisfaction and maximize gross profits in their businesses. Mr. Libin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-626-9200 or www.apb.cc.