You’re not their friend, you’re their adviser

August 29, 2014

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

As I write this, I’m at the Los Angeles Shred School workshop. At the front of the room Ray Barry is teaching 35 industry professionals how and when to best submit a proposal for maximum results. It is hard to describe how captivated the audience is. Ray is giving them information they haven’t heard before. Nobody is texting or checking emails. They are riveted.

In this discussion, Ray describes the difference between the pure “relationship-building sales professional” and the sales professional who is respected enough to overcome a prospect’s misconceptions. He explains how the latter is better positioned to close the sale based on qualifications, not price.

I assume everyone has encountered a sales professional at some point in their travels, who obviously knew so much about their industry that they could push back on customers’ misconceptions. In those cases, the sales professional can literally set the customer straight, and do it with enough confidence and knowledge that the customer acts on their advice. This only works when three things are true, however:

  1. The salesperson knows what they’re talking about
  2. The salesperson exudes the confidence necessary to confront the misconception
  3. The salesperson has the prospect’s trust (relationship building)

Now, ask yourself, when you interact with your customers and prospects, do they leave that interaction so impressed by your knowledge and confidence (and credentials, if pertinent) that they would defer to your informed opinion instead of their misconceptions?

Salesmanship is more than giving the customer what they want; it’s also the ability to convince them of what they need. You’re the expert, not them, right? So act like it.

Of course, customers and prospects are also keenly aware that you have your own motives for your opinions, which is why No. 3 above is so important. It’s more than being a know-it-all; it’s about being trusted and respected. They have to believe you’re honestly looking out for their best interest when providing your opinion. As long as it that is your genuine opinion, it will be communicated that way.

While what I am describing is the holy grail of sales positioning, it is not unrealistic. All that’s necessary is that you commit to being a professional. Being the owner of equipment does not make you a professional. Knowing your customer’s needs better than they know their own and then filling those needs is the key.