Just as great brands cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with their customers, great salespeople cultivate a deep connection between their company and their client’s business. To borrow a term, the best salespeople are brand evangelists.
Guy Kawasaki first adopted the term “evangelism” into the business world by applying it to an innovative approach to sales, marketing, and management. Evangelism, as he defined it, means “convincing people to believe in your product or ideas as much as you do” because evangelists believe that what they offer is truly helpful and valuable to others.
Brand evangelists — that is, great salespeople — build up support within a market for a brand so that it becomes the brand leader in its category.
Importantly, brand evangelism is not another one of the customer-centric or customer-driven sales approaches that have become popular in recent years. Customer-centric sales and most other sales improvement approaches are pursued for the sole purpose of increasing sales. Brand evangelism is about engaging customers in a way that produces stronger and more valuable brands and sustaining long-term business success for their companies and their clients.
This is what great salespeople do.
How do Customers perceive Salesmen in general?
We have come across quite a few good sales-people who are efficient and effective. They consistently achieve targets and are respected by their clients. However, the majority of sales-people do not meet the above criteria. What do clients feel about sales-people who call on them? In a survey carried out with various customers, the following observations were made about sales-people:
1. They talk too much.
2. They do not listen to our needs.
3. They display a ‘know-it-all’ attitude.
4. They try to sell without understanding our specific requirements.
5. They do not show much concern about our business process.
6. We are bombarded with unnecessary technical jargon.
7. Their follow-up is based only on their needs and not on ours.
8. They are desperate to close the order.
9. Very rarely do they follow up after collecting the order.
10. They become defensive when pointed out about product and service deficiencies.
Author – Rajan Parulekar
Is there any merit in salesmen making canned presentations? During a pre-training briefing, many clients insist that a standard script be taught, for use verbatim for their sales calls. Their justification for this is “it impresses the customer”.
The following are their reasons for still sticking to this outdated selling style.
- Management pressure: It is assumed that the boss knows best. The sales team has been told that there is only one way of talking and so be it.
- Low self-esteem of salesmen
- Locus of control: The salesman feels that the customer is all too powerful, due to low self-esteem of the former. Under such a notion, he presumes that a canned speech may rescue him. This is termed as ‘premature cognitive commitment’ (PCC) by Ellen Langer, a renowned psychologist at Harvard Business School. A belief in PCC makes the salesman focus more on the outcome (I want to get this order) rather than the process (Can I understand the concerns he has about me , my organization and the products before selling?). This focus on the outcome leads to fatigue and exhaustion not only to the seller but also to the buyer because it is a mindless activity. To keep the customer engaged, he should move from mindlessness to mindfulness. It is assumed that practice makes perfect, but the truth is otherwise. It makes one mindless because whenever you perform an activity in a routine way, it moves out of your consciousness and becomes dull and boring.
Canned speeches fail for the following reasons:
- The market has changed from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. Today’s customers have more choices than earlier.
- Customers anticipate what the salesman would say, thus making the conversation monotonous and boring.
- Each customer is unique in terms of attitude, behaviour, culture, etc. Also, the same customer may display a different type of behaviour at different times. In the morning he may have the energy to listen to the salesperson, but in the subsequent post-lunch meeting he may not have the same energy level.
- The attention span of customers has come down thanks to computers, mobiles, hand-helds, PDAs. A familiar script produces boredom and irritation in customers.
Excerpts taken from Contextual Selling® – A new sales paradigm for the 21st century (Author – Rajan Parulekar)