Echoes of the sounds of salesmen

If there has been one recurring theme throughout our day-to-day practice since its inception, it is the multi-headed medusa that is the sales sector.

In the beginning, you’re dying to have someone–anyone–come to your office, even if that person is trying to sell you something.  You’re just glad they came to your humble abode.

At first.

And then it becomes a pain in the ass.  Many of them have the annoying habit of showing up late, or not showing up at all.  Way to respect a doctor’s time–or anyone’s time for that matter.

Annoying habit #2 – I will never understand why, after you’ve expressed interest in Product A and not Product B, they continue to push, suggest, or hint at Product B, while Product A waits in the sidelines.  Do they not understand that if they can’t meet our needs, we have no use for them?  Maybe some get bigger bonuses for selling certain items or have certain quotas to meet.  However, get too pushy about the wrong items, and you may lose a sale altogether.

Annoying habit #3 – why is it that after you’ve told a telemarketer you’re not interested in their credit card processing services or their directory-listing borderline-scam, they keep calling and calling for months?  Don’t they realize they’re just wasting their own time and money, as well as making a lifetime enemy that is guaranteed not to EVER use their services, even if we find ourselves in the market for them?

Annoying habit #4 – when the salesperson says they’d like to meet to discuss Topic A (which can help you) and ends up showing up to push more product, without really ever addressing your concerns under Topic A.  For example, a supplement company rep claimed to have some marketing ideas for our practice.  I was excited because this person had access to several other successful docs and I jumped at the chance to pick her brain to see what light she could shed on what some of them were doing and the strategies they used that actually panned out for them.

But what does she do instead?  She shows up with product info and after going through a few cursory checklist of the most basic fundamentals (of which we had already accomplished and then some), she proceeded to try to incorporate ways to push more product on more people.  I understand perfectly that this was a sales rep from a nutritional supplement company and that her job is to boost company sales, and I have no problem with her attempts to do so.  However, if that is the ultimate intent, I suggest coming out and saying as much, rather than thinly veiling yet another sales pitch in an altruistic facade.  Call a spade a spade and let me decide for myself whether or not to have the meeting – after I have ALL the pertinent info.

Folks, making a sale in the 21st century is not about pushing a product or service on a lukewarm prospect until they give in and agree to a sale out of pure exhaustion, defeat, or the fear of hurting your feelings.  It’s not even all about whether I like you or not.  You can be charismatic and I can like you and still turn down a sale because I simply don’t have a need for your product.

Which is what making a sale in the 21st century IS all about – it’s about working together to meet the needs of your prospect.  As a salesperson, your job is to offer me a solution to a problem.  Either I recognize I have the problem (in which case your job is much easier because chances are I will have sought you out and this puts you partway in my door already, so long as you have a viable solution to that problem), or you have to approach me and convince me I have a problem in the first place and then convince me you have the solution (which is much harder to accomplish).  When you show me solutions and meet my needs, you earn my trust and build a meaningful, long-lasting relationship.  While these may take longer to reap any recognizable fruit on your stat sheet, it certainly does profit you in the long run because I will be with you for life.  Loyalty runs both ways and if you treat me right, I’ll show you the sun and stars.

But it starts with that first encounter.  As a company rep trying to make a sale, you can start down the road to success by listening to my needs and working with me to meet them by offering the right solution, even if it’s not the one that carries the biggest commission.  Do me right, and I will return the favor.  I will put my name behind my recommendation of you to anyone I know.  And that means something, because I have worked long and hard to earn the trust of others.  Thus, when I recommend a product, service, company, or representative, people tend to listen.

I just wish more salespeople realized this…and cared.  Some do, and kudos to them.  To those who don’t, well, keep struggling.  Maybe you’ll amass enough exhausted clients who are too polite to tell you no…in the short term, anyway.

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