True story: I just got home from a long day at work and I’m tryng to make dinner for my kids. While I’m juggling a hot pan and a pot of boiling water, my dogs need to be fed and let outside, and I need to go through the mail that was delivered today. In the middle of it all the phone rings. It’s “Mai” calling and she wants to know how I’m doing – how I’m really doing. The problem is that I don’t know Mai and I don’t know why she is calling, so I’m not quite sure why she would think I would interrupt my evening routine to have a conversation about how I’m really doing. Instead, I ask where she is calling from and before answering, she repeats her entire opening monologue which I now realize is clearly scipted. Then, instead of telling me where she is calling from, she goes on to say that she can help people like me get out of debt and asks if I feel like I could use her help.

For real, sister?

First of all, I don’t know you. Second of all, I’m not in debt. And third of all, does this kind of pitch ever really work??!!

This might be an extreme example but the reality is that there are examples of pushy salespeople and poorly executed pitches all around us. From the salesperson at the mall who keeps trying to get me to buy a dress that I know doesn’t fit well, to the guy who keeps calling me at the office to try and sell me software I don’t need, to the kid at a well-known chain store who continues to push a “purchase protection plan” after I’ve declined it, salespeople can be downright annoying.

When you think about it, this approach to sales is broken. There has been a massive shift over the last two decades in how people buy. It’s well documented and there is plenty of data to support it. With more information available online, we as buyers start our purchasing process on Google and don’t want to talk to a salesperson until we are 70% of the way through our buying process.

Why?

We don’t trust salespeople.

We’re afraid to enter into a conversation with a salesperson without doing our research, so we go onto Google and learn everything we can about that thing we want to buy, from what it costs, to what the problems are with it, to what others think about it. Our goal? To ensure that we are armed with plenty of information so that we don’t feel we can be “taken advantage of.”

Think about that.

There is something fundamentally wrong when the assumption of a buyer is that the salesperson they are dealing with will take advantage of them, especially when you consider what that implies over the long term. If we as businesses start our relationship with new clients on a foundation that lacks trust, what does that say about the longevity of the customer relationship, or even our ability to build a relationship in the first place?

A Better Approach

The good news is that not all salespeople are obnoxious and annoying. There are some out there who take a different approach and see the value in not just forming a relationship with prospects, but actually helping prospects by solving their problems and answering their questions. These are the sales reps who sell the way people want to buy, and they are the ones who will be most successful in not just selling, but also building relationships with prospects and customers that stand the test of time.

The best salespeople use an inbound sales methodology that emphasizes education over persuasion, and partnership over pressure. They get that buyers are skeptical and know that their job is to be helpful. They don’t hound prospects and they don’t use pushy tactics or boilerplate scripts. They DO create helpful content and offer prospects educational information, and they do work together with them to develop solutions that are win-win.

The best salespeople are already using this approach, but unfortunately, they are in the minority. I believe – no, I hope – that we’re in the early stages of a major shift that will see more salespeople changing their approach and using inbound methods. The only way this will actually happen is if research proves this approach to be more successful and we follow up the research with comprehensive training that supports salespeople and gives them the tools needed to succeed.

Success. That’s what its all about.

For salespeople, success means closing more deals, so getting them to adopt inbound selling practices will require proof that inbound selling can help them do that

I would love to hear what you think about the state of sales. And what was your worst encounter with a salesperson? Share in the comments.