People don’t dislike sales people, they dislike bad selling! I wish I had said that, but it originally came from Andy Rudin—thanks for the great quote.

There’s a lot of data going around about customers not wanting to engage sales people until very late in their buying process. The numbers vary, but they seem clustered around 70% of the buying process is completed before sales people are engaged. The implication is that somehow the sales person is no longer necessary, customers have other alternatives for getting information, evaluating alternatives, and developing a short list.

Sales people complain, “I can’t get people to return my calls,” “I can’t get meetings with customers.”

It’s easy to come to the conclusion that people dislike sales people. Some think, there’s a way to get around this, let’s not call sales people “sales people.” Let’s call them Business Development Managers, Relationship Managers, Advisors…….. But this doesn’t seem to work. Customers are clever, they break the code, they know a sales person by any other name is still a sales person.

We can quickly get an inferiority complex, perhaps deserved, that people don’t like sales people —- there are enough jokes to reinforce this.

Then something happens, you see a truly great sales person. This person has little difficulty seeing prospects and customers (yes there is baggage from those that have gone before). Customers don’t avoid them, they welcome them. They become trusted advisors–not by title, but in the way customers think of them. We then examine, what makes these sales people different?

It’s easy–they are great sales people. They create great value for the customer–in every interaction with the customer. They sell well!

Sometimes, I think we overcomplicate things. People don’t dislike sales people, they dislike bad selling. It’s not whether sales people are provocative, provide insight, are consultative, are problem solvers, or provide great solutions—though those are all elements of great selling. Great sales people sell well.

We know the characteristics—they understand their customers and their markets, they understand their products, they ask great questions, they get the customers to think about things differently, they are problem solvers, they meet their commitments, they are well prepared and thoughtful in the use of their and their customers’ time, they are collaborative, they listen well, they are disciplined…… The list goes on.

In short, they are always creating value for their customers and their own companies. They don’t waste their or their customer’s time.

People don’t dislike sales people, they dislike bad selling! How well do you sell?