Intention is more important than technique.

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Let’s imagine you meet two salesmen to find out if they can help your organization with a problem. The first salesman is acting professional, is well spoken and showing you several alternatives and ROI but you have this feeling that he is hiding something or you are not sure you can trust him. The second salesman is not so well dressed or does not have as impressive slides as the first salesman but you feel that this guy really are here to help you rather then just making the sale for his own. Who would you like to do business with? Sales people are putting much money and effort in improving their sales technique to increase their outcome but are sometimes working under dysfunctional paradigms ignoring the fundamental aspect to help the customer whether it happens to be with their own product or not.

People will forgive bad technique but never bad intent. It may sound obvious but just think about what will happen if you succeed in selling a product/service that the customer don’t really need. The customer will put time and effort in implementing your product/service hoping it will provide the results you have presented but when it does not live up to the expectations you will have a customer who expects you to help him in the situation you have put him in. Now you have two options:

  1. If you agree to help him, you will need to put more resources than expected which means lowering your margin or maybe even turning the sale into a business with a total negative revenue. Even if you manage to fix this particular situation the customer will think twice before hiring you again.
  2. If you refuse to help him arguing that you have followed every part of the contract and the product leaves no guarantees, the customer will most probably never do business with you again and also tell friends and colleagues about how he/she was tricked by your company every time the name is mentioned.

Both these options are a lose-lose situation. The work of a salesman is to help the customer become aware of possible solutions to his/her problems, present evidence that the solution really will provide the expected results and help the customer throughout the entire process i.e. not only until the contract has been signed. All salesmen should strive for long term business relationships since the cost of completing a sale with a new customer is so much higher than with an already established customer.

One of the most important skills of a salesman is to help the customer buy what he/she needs (which is not always the same as what he/she wants…).

“Everybody loves to buy, no one likes to be sold”

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