Salespeople tend to have a pretty poor reputation across all images. The standard image of a salesman is the hair slicked back, fast-talking guy who will say or do anything to close a deal. That negative perception, combined with the poor reputation around accountability that already plagues the security industry, make it extremely tough for salespeople and business development managers to really connect with potential customers.
To effectively counter customers’ natural dislike of salespeople, we first have to understand it. Why don’t prospects like salespeople, and what can we do to get them over that initial dislike?
Poor Timing And Invasive Tactics
Property & Faculity Managers have incredibly stressful and chaotic jobs. They have to deal with frustrated residents, tenants, employees, and vendors, and report back to higher ups in the corporate office. Their days are filled with putting out one fire after another, and if you call during the middle of all this then you’re just adding to their stress.
That’s the last thing you want to do. First impressions are powerful, and the first impression the manager has of you is someone that creates more work and headaches rather than less.
A simple way to get around this is to go through whoever the gatekeeper is for the property manager: personal assistant, secretary, office manager, whoever. Ask that person when the best time to reach the decision maker is, and how they’d like to be contacted, whether it’s e-mail, phone, or in person.
This is such a small thing, but it shows your willingness to work with the prospect and to fit into their established processes. A nice little gift for the secretary or assistant can be a great way to win a friend in the office as well and ensure you get a chance to talk to the property manager.
To Focused On “Me”
Prospects care much more about their own business than they do about yours. Despite this fact, a lot of salespeople spend the vast majority of their pitch talking about themselves, focusing on how their company is the best in the business and bragging about their capabilities.
Some bragging is necessary, but the truth is that prospects want to hear more about what you can do for them. Rather than talking about your own company, talk about their business and the problems they face, and use that as a way to transition into the opportunities to partner together and solve these problems.
Again, this shows that you’re willing to be a partner, to adapt your methods to the specific needs of the prospect and take work off their plate.
Too Much Information, Not Enough Solutions
Technology and the information age have transformed the role of the salesperson. In the past, a salesperson could claim to add value for customers by serving as a valuable source of information about their specialized industry. Now, customers can find all that information online with relative ease, and the growth of online retail shows how much most people prefer that option to actually having to deal with a salesperson.
What this means is that a salesperson has to go beyond mere facts and figures to get into an in-depth discussion of the problems that the prospect faces and the specialized solutions that your company can deliver.
To do this, you have to do some preparation to understand the specifics of the prospects business. ForRent’s online magazine is a great resource for understanding the difficulties and frustrations of property managers in different locales. To learn more about your prospect, look through their posts on LinkedIn and other social media/forums to get a sense of their most pressing needs.
“Your goal here is to step into their world and to be a resource for them,” said Johnny on today’s episode.
That means you have to be the one to make the effort to research their business, rather than rely on them to give you all the information. There’s a great group on LinkedIn called “Business Development - The Missing Link between Marketing & Sales”, and one of the biggest pieces of feedback we’ve seen from buyers in that group is that they’re tired of the huge number of questions they get from salespeople. Spend less time on needs analysis, and more time on how you can address those needs.
Follow Their Timeline
Finally, once you’ve made your initial pitch and—hopefully—shown them enough to get them interested, work with the prospect to establish a timeline for following up and moving forward in the buying process.
Make sure to ask them what the next step is, don’t just decide on your own when to follow up. This again ensures that you’re presenting yourself as a partner and fitting in with their established processes. Now, if they do start to drag out the process, you can try to accelerate things by proposing some concrete steps, but otherwise stick to their timeline and present yourself as a valuable resource every step of the way.