As a sales professional, have you ever had that uneasy feeling in your gut when you feel like you didn’t do right by your customer? Have you ever felt guilty that you made a big commission, yet the product or service wasn’t the right fit for your customer? Have you ever felt remorse by making a decision that could potentially hurt the company you work for? Congratulations, you have a conscience!
Unfortunately, sales professionals are often viewed as pushy, selfish and blind to what customers really want. We’ve done this to ourselves. If we sell a product or service that’s substandard, we resort to questionable tactics to get customers to buy from us. If we aren’t properly trained or don’t have a moral compass, we compensate with tips and tricks that can back-fire, hurting your customer and your company.
Many years ago, my former VP of Sales saw that I had “Business Development” as my title on my business card. He asked me why. I told him that I didn’t want people to see “SALES” anywhere on my business card because of the negative connotation associated with sales people. It’s been 15 years since that conversation, and I can still hear the words he said to me that day. “Be proud of the fact that you’re a sales professional. Only a handful of professions give you the chance to help people find solutions to problems or enhance their life, all while being paid well to do it.” That statement resonated with me, and since that day I’ve held myself, and all the sales reps I’ve managed over the years, to be proud of their selling profession.
But to be proud of your selling profession, you must feel good about what you do. Selling with authenticity, ethics and peace of mind makes sense of course. But is it attainable? Can sales professionals be ethical and authentic, yet productive and successful? Selling is tough. Sales professionals deal with rejection every day. And sales managers deal with high turnover, emotional employees and a constant expectation to reach and exceed their company’s aggressive growth goals.
To aspire for authenticity, ethics and peace of mind in the selling profession, there are key points you should consider when searching for a sales job, assessing whether your current sales job is the right fit or looking in the mirror to decide if selling is the right profession for you.
Belief in Your Company’s Products and Services
It is a sales professional’s dream to sell a unique, high-quality, fairly-priced, and market-proven product or service. The opposite is brutal. If you are a sales professional working for a company that creates poor or sub-standard products or services, run for the hills! I say that because if you don’t believe in your company’s products or services and don’t feel comfortable representing your company to the outside world, it’s only a matter of time before you become miserable, quit or be asked to leave due to poor performance.
For many decades, sales training programs made it a point to teach the art of “adapting to your customers.” Gently adjusting your tone, pace and line of questioning to build rapport with your customer is effective, but far too often I’ve seen sales professionals take on a completely different persona. Today’s customers are savvy, and they can see right through an attempt to blatantly copy their style. This can shut down a sales presentation. Today’s customers appreciate honesty, authenticity and a genuine sales professional that is looking out for them. So be yourself!
Big Commission Checks Aren’t the Only Measure of Success
Contrary to popular belief, successful and long-term sales professionals are motivated by more than just money. Notice that I said successful AND long-term sales professionals. For a sales professional to stay in a selling-role for many years, especially with the same company, that person must be bought in to the company’s mission and culture. That person wants to be recognized for their efforts and feel as though they are part of the team that drives the company’s success. A sales professional motivated solely by money rarely remains in a sales position long term, regardless of their selling talent. Unethical and short-sided decisions are prevalent amongst sales professionals that only focus on money. While successful and ethical sales professionals can (and should) be highly compensated, there’s more to happiness than just a big commission check.
Do Right by Your Customer
Trying to push a brand new pick-up truck to a customer, when they really want a used compact car does not make sense. If you have the skills to dupe a customer into buying a product or service they don’t want or need, imagine how effective you could be if you used your talent for good instead of evil. Nowadays customers have countless outlets to post online reviews through websites and social media. If you don’t do right by your customer, what little short-term gains you experience will be squashed by the long-term damage to yourself, your company and your brand. Helping your customer could mean them not buying from you, but it could also mean that you point them in the right direction towards another solution that will help you, your company and your brand long-term.
Do Right by Your Company
You expect your company to provide you with support in your role as a sales professional— a fair wage, a clean and supportive work environment, a quality product or service to sell and increased earning potential based on successful selling results. Your company has expectations from you as well. Represent the company the best way you can, effectively communicate the value of their products and services to potential customers, close deals, grow revenue and be a good teammate to the rest of the employees. To stay in the good graces of your company’s leadership, ensure you are doing what’s best for your company. Taking advantage of a short-term personal gains at the expense of the long-term health of your company will expedite your demise. It’s not worth it. And if you feel your employer does not share your ethics and values, then put in your notice and look for another company to represent.
Relentless Drive to be Successful
Sales professionals, like athletes, must practice and train to get better. The comparisons between sports and selling are vast. Successful sales professionals have a relentless drive to broaden their skillset, to perform at a high level, to be part of a team and to meet and exceed their company’s sales goals. You owe it to your company to bring your “A-game” every day. And if you gave it your all, you’ll have peace of mind that you did everything you could to be successful. Time to sell!
Keep in mind, it may take you several years to find that company that’s the right fit. Once you find that company, seize that opportunity and put all your effort into making that company the greatest organization in your industry. If you embrace the six concepts listed above and are successful doing so, it will be a dream come true for company leadership. Fantastic sales professionals are very hard to find. But that’s wonderful news for us sales professionals that are proud of what we do and do it well.
“Be proud of the fact that you’re a sales professional. Only a handful of professions give you the chance to help people find solutions to problems or enhance their life, all while being paid well to do it.”
Brad Gamble is the founder and CEO of The Selling Factory. Their mission is to provide a high-energy selling environment where students will learn, entrepreneurs will grow and companies will flourish. The Selling Factory offers sales training and coaching through our series of SELLING BOOT CAMP courses and daily SELLING BLITZ sessions. Our selling-focused services are facilitated in our beautiful 5,000 square foot selling-focused co-working space at 2020 West University Avenue, across from the University of Florida campus. To learn more about The Selling Factory, visit thesellingfactory.com or call 352-258-3705.