I used to be on the receiving end of sales calls and pitches. Now, as a business consultant (and also in my new role as a salesman selling logo merchandise and apparel*), I’m on the giving end. As you know, I like to look at every interaction from the other person’s point of view to make sure I meet, then exceed, their expectations. My experience on the receiving end of this role reversal will help me tremendously.
I’ve only ever asked one person to leave the Toy House in my twenty three years as a buyer. It was a sales rep. He sold a couple higher-end furniture and gear lines for the baby product industry that I was interested in bringing in. Here is the opening conversation …
Sales rep: Hey. Sorry I’m late. Had to make a phone call.
Me: Hey. You must be Tim. I’m Phil. Welcome to Toy House.
Sales rep: No wonder you don’t sell any gliders. Your department is a holy mess!
Me: We just had a customer in trying all the chairs and moving them around so that she could see different ones side-by-side.
Sales rep: Here. Let me show you the order I just wrote for (a competitor to the east). See how many chairs they ordered? Now that’s a baby store! You know, I used to call on your father years ago. He was a real asshole.
Me: I think we’re done here. You need to leave. Now. You’ve just insulted my store, my father, and my sensabilities. Thank you for stopping by but I will not be needing your services.
I’m pretty sure he walked away thinking “like-father-like-son.” I’m okay with that.
Here is what I liked in a salesperson:
- Someone who called or emailed to make an appointment when he had something new to show or special terms to offer.
- Someone who made it clear why the appointment was necessary, what we would discuss, and how long it would likely take so that I could plan accordingly.
- Someone who showed up on time and was friendly and polite.
- Someone who showed up completely prepared with catalogs, prices, order forms, a charged computer (if necessary), and answers to the most frequently asked questions.
- Someone who followed through with the order giving me updates on the processing and shipping of the order.
- Someone who called me after the order was shipped to make sure I got it and that everything came in properly without problems.
I didn’t always get that—especially those last two—but when I did, it was magical. Those are the sales reps I trusted. Those are the sales reps who got my business whenever possible. Those are the sales reps I most enjoyed seeing in my store. Those are the sales reps I think about when I’m making pitches.
Sure, building a relationship is an important part of selling, maybe even the most important part. I can promise you this, though. Those six bullet points above will help you build a relationship with your client that will be as rock solid as if you were high school besties.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I’m talking about sales reps to a bunch of retailers, here are four reasons:
- I have plenty of sales reps who read this blog.
- You have the chance to “train” your sales reps to do their job the way you want it done.
- In many ways, this applies to your salespeople on your sales floor, too.
- To show you one more example why you should always look at everything from your customer’s point of view. Then try to meet and exceed their expectations. Can’t hammer that point home hard enough.
PS I had several salespeople I truly liked. Yes, we had fun talking shop. Yes, we went out for lunch or got Hinkley’s doughnuts. Yes, we talked about family. But if they didn’t show up prepared, if they screwed up orders, or if they disappeared when there were problems, all that other stuff was for naught.
*If you want your logo imprinted on pens, notepads, water bottles, mugs, blankets, shirts, caps, even pizza cutters, shoot me an email before you order. At the very least, I’ll make sure you’re getting a good deal wherever you might be buying your stuff. If you order through me, you know I’ll follow through to the end to make sure you’re satisfied because I know that’s what you want.