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Sales Isn't a War: Focus on the Customer

March 28, 2017
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Telemarketing Software Contributor

Let’s face it: the sales professional doesn’t always have the best reputation. While most salespeople are professionals who understand where the limits to the sales process are (hint: calling customers at home during dinner is way past the limit), it’s not uncommon to find bad apples. We all know the type: those who are pushy and aggressive, those who talk but don’t listen and those who rely on cheesy “hard sell” language.

In a recent blog post, sales professional Jill Konrath noted that sales has traditionally been a male profession, and “selling like a girl” has been considered an insult.

“In fact, when I first started out, I tried really hard to do what the guys did,” wrote Konrath. “But being pushy, wasn’t part of my nature. I hated pitching; it felt so self-serving. I detested anything that smacked of manipulation. And I never was able to bring myself to use the trite closing techniques that my male colleagues claimed were so effective.”

In reality, the “business as usual” approach wasn’t effective for Konrath, but “selling like a girl” worked beautifully.

“Instead of focusing on products, services and slimy sales techniques, I focused on my customer,” she wrote. “That’s the only thing that mattered to me. I wanted to understand their status quo, their challenges and their objectives.”

The idea that women are better listeners and more empathetic than men may be a stereotype (the merits of that argument could fill an entire library). But there shouldn’t even be a question today, in 2017, that sales is not a “war.” It’s about relationships with customers.

Konrath’s method involves asking customers a lot of questions. The more you understand about your customers, the better position you’re in to help them (and, of course, sell to them). Focusing on collaboration and understanding is a pivotal step to building a relationship that will last for years, if not an entire career. Treating customers as if they’re an unimportant step in a skyrocketing sales career isn’t going to win you a lot of closes. And customers can smell “bull” from a hundred miles away.

“When I didn’t know the answers, I said so,” wrote Korath. “My intent was always on making a difference for their business. At my core, I knew that if I could make that happen, I would benefit too.”

Customers who are listened to and collaborated with develop special relationships with sales professionals who care. Trust is built, and customers are more likely to accept the recommendations of a sales professional with whom they have a tangible relationship.

Many companies today rely on automated solutions, particularly for inside sales. Telemarketing solutions and sales workflow software help speed up the process and keep sales enablement materials at hand. But consider how helpful it might be if sales departments built in more time for “girl selling”: more listening, more time to gather information and more collaboration. Remember: it’s not a war, and customers aren’t your enemy.

Edited by Alicia Young

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