By Younas Chaudhary
In 1976, I began my career as a door-to-door salesman selling kitchenware mostly to young couples. Over the past 40 years, sales as a profession has changed dramatically, yet the stereotype of the slick salesperson remains. Slick salespeople are aggressive, pushy individuals who care only about securing a sale. They focus solely on closing the deal and pocketing their commission but forget the needs and concerns of the customer. But, let me focus more on the positive and good salespeople.
In today’s world, good salespeople play a critical role in adding value to a transaction. For example, in the real estate market, a good realtor can be a true blessing and an asset. Several years ago, while negotiating the purchase of one of my homes, the realtor told me that the previous owner had imported hardwood from Africa to outfit one of the large rooms. He added that there was brass artwork that had been hand-crafted on-site. I would never have known these valuable details without the help of that knowledgeable salesperson.
Good salespeople add value to both sides of the equation. They come armed with knowledge and are eager to help their customers. They build trust, listen to their client’s needs, negotiate effectively, and assist in getting deals to close. Trained salespeople have a solid understanding of the buyer’s and seller’s journey and are skilled in discovering their client’s desires and needs. Once they know the client’s requirements, they patiently account for those needs and desires through the entire process, in the discovery, negotiation, and closing phases.
Recently, I was looking to buy a new SUV of a particular brand, and the salesperson showed me an SUV of a different brand that I had disliked from the outset. To the salesperson’s credit, this individual did not coax me into buying that suggested SUV. Instead, the salesperson said: “I understand that you do not wish to buy that SUV, but since you are here at the dealership, I suggest, you go ahead and try taking it for a short spin.” I had prematurely made up my mind not to buy that SUV, but once I drove it, I liked it immediately and ended up purchasing it.
In short, by understanding and respecting your individual needs and desires, good salespeople can create a great experience for you.
On the other hand, slick salespeople also exist, and we have to be very cautious when dealing with them. They are transactional in nature, thinking only of their commission, and they give a bad reputation to salespeople as a whole. I have dealt with my fair share of them over the years in both the real estate and oil and gas businesses. They sweet-talk you during the negotiation and purchase phase but leave you in the lurch once the deal is closed. Our team has closed many deals that were beneficial and satisfying for all parties. But unfortunately, we have also experienced a few deals where slick people would remove unused and unattended equipment from the properties just prior to closing. That kind of unscrupulous behavior tells you everything you need to know about how desperate and slick those people were!
I have observed this in the real estate sector as well. Salespeople procure leases for tenants with grand statements about the success of their businesses and the strength of their on-time payment history. But when a calamity strikes, tenants decide not to make their monthly rent payments, and the salesperson is nowhere to be found. This is happening as we speak. Several businesses who were thriving earlier this year and have adequate funds to pay monthly rent are defaulting on their rent disingenuously using Covid-19 as an excuse. This, even as they benefit tremendously from the government’s largesse through PPP forgiveness loans and other mechanisms. The hypocrisy is incredible: On one hand, they are taking 100% forgivable loans from the government designed for the express purpose of making rent payments, and on the other hand they are not making their rent payments allegedly for lack of funds.
We have heard about robbing Peter to pay Paul, but this is the first time that both Peter and Paul are being robbed simultaneously in the name of a pandemic!
Sadly, such unscrupulous behavior creates a ripple effect that ultimately harms the nation’s overall economy. When landlords owe money to banks and default in their payments, the banks suffer; and when the banks suffer, everyone suffers. But the slick salespeople who talked highly about their clients during lease negotiations do not care; in fact, they are nowhere to be found!
I should add that over the years, the Internet has revolutionized sales through automation, and artificial intelligence has already taken over the sales processes in multiple sectors. Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses like used car sales that have relied on salespeople have been disrupted by companies like Carvana. Now, you can pick a car, arrange financing, and secure door-to-door delivery from the comfort of your home without talking to any salespeople. You can compare rates, find a cheaper dealer, and buy a car from a different location and city without having a conversation with a single human being.
Many Business to Business (B2B) sales transactions are being negotiated using chat bots and artificial intelligence using content marketing, thereby again eliminating human involvement. Meanwhile, in the Business to Consumer (B2C) market, social media is playing a major role in shaping consumer behavior, removing the influence and expertise of trained sales professionals.
My original experience as a door-to-door salesman selling cookware has now changed dramatically. In 1976, Canadian entrepreneur Bernie Lofchick placed an advertisement in the Edmonton Journal that said, “Aggressive salesmen ready to earn big money needed immediately.” I jumped on that opportunity and that was one of my first sales jobs!
Forty-four years later, we still see such advertisements. However, the consumer has so much more power today and is armed with so much more information, knowledge, user and expert opinion.
Today, if you are in sales, the better and kinder approach is to help and assist consumers to make a good decision, rather than push your own self-interest as a slick salesperson!
Find out more about me in my best-selling book “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.
Stay tuned for Blog 25 Tip 11: Bring a 3rd Eye.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and the reader is advised to consult other advisors as well as his own judgment in making business decisions.