Tips to be more effective salesman

First, let’s define Smanker. That term was coined to refer to those who claim social media ‘influence’ for the sake of ‘influence’ as opposed to adding any sort of value to anything. While I’m using the ‘Smanker’ term expansively, that link should make it clear what I mean.

In a previous life I worked for a legacy content publisher in sales and marketing. I’ve been through some fancy and sophisticated sales training, so I know all the moves. There’s also a part of me that relishes passing judgment. In my current role as Community Manager with a leading marketing/advertising agency, I evaluate social tools, make client recommendations, and handle contract negotiations. This brings me into extensive contact with sales people.

Full disclosure, I know many sales professionals on a professional and personal level. I know the majority of them to be highly effective for their organizations and for their customers. That begs the question as to what the Meistersingers of sales are doing. It’s a pretty simple formula:

  • Customer Centricity - It’s about your customer, their needs, their business, and you making them look smarter in front of their bosses.
  • Solution Selling - Your product, service, technology or whatever is solving a problem. It’s improving customers’ businesses in some tangible, measurable way. Maybe they don’t see it, but that’s your job to help them see it that way. That’s why you were hired as a sales person: you are personable, informative, and tactful.
  • Empathy - Don’t hate your customers. They have issues, need solutions, and ultimately need to justify the expenditure for your product, solution, service etc. Yes, customers are annoying sometimes, but we’re all answerable to someone, in some way. Please find a tactful way to deal.
  • Credibility - No one wants to do business with someone they deem dishonest, not forthcoming, overtly slick, and too upfront about being out for #1. I’m sure you get the picture. But establishing yourself as an honest, thoughtful, solutions oriented sales professional will pay dividends.
  • Homework - It’s not my job to make the sale for you. If you are relying on me to make introductions, advocate for your product, demonstrate need you will be out of luck. It’s my job to keep the client happy, and where you come in is in how we can make that happen. It may well include working together- in fact it often does- but don’t take this for granted. Go around me, go up the ladder, introduce yourself, and set up meetings. Again, none of that is my job. It’s yours, so do it.
  • Build Relationships - Free lunches don’t exist, and chances are I don’t want to have lunch with you. I dislike freebies, and for that matter anything with strings attached. I want a demonstrable solution for my client. Since I’m not totally hostile, we can certainly have lunch once we establish a relationship. But lunch isn’t a proxy for relationship building.
  • It’s a Pleasure Doing Business - Or at least it should be. What this means is your internal needs are not my problem. Your company’s revenue targets are of no concern to me. I suggest you work with me to find an equitable solution. If working with you morphs into working for you, I can find another suitable option. Trust me.

Quality sales professionals are essential to the success of their employer and to that of their customers. As someone influencing purchasing decisions, who would I rather see be successful? A smanker? Or someone who helped me make an intelligent recommendation, and thus look smarter? Which one?