Because sales jobs are often commission-based and results-driven, working in sales can bring incredible stress and pressure. In fact, sales professionals and sales managers consistently rank among the most stressful jobs one can have, and Thrive Global found that 67% of sales reps are close to reaching burnout. Given this, it’s understandable that sales professionals may not always prioritize their selling etiquette. But although pressure is consistently present in sales, selling etiquette techniques and best practices still matter.
Here are the dos and don'ts of selling etiquette:
Do: Pay attention to the impression you’re making. Within seconds of meeting a prospective client, they start to form their impression of you and determine traits like trustworthiness and likability. Focus on your attitude, energy, and appearance. Ask your prospects questions about themselves, so they will remember you are genuinely interested in them and their business—this idea goes for current customers and key contacts, too. Remember, all things being equal, people do business with people they like, so when you only have a matter of seconds to impress someone, you have to make your time count.
Do: Be honest with clients. Customers will gravitate towards the brand they believe is most trustworthy, and trust plays an integral role in developing interdependent relationships within each account. Be upfront and transparent with your customers, even if it doesn’t directly benefit you or your business. Sales professionals who take the time to establish themselves as trustworthy will demonstrate proper selling etiquette and benefit long-term in the way of customer loyalty.
Do: Learn to listen. Sales professionals must be in tune with their customers’ needs and wants. If you have been through a Carew sales training program, you know we firmly believe you cannot solve a customer’s problem until you get to the heart of what they want—or until you find their GAP. This involves asking good questions, and it also involves active listening. Listening is an indication of interest and shows empathy. The impact of active listening is that the client feels cared for. And remember, if you are already formulating a response while the customer is talking, you aren’t listening.
Do: Prepare as much as possible. Conduct pre-call research to uncover relevant facts about your client, their business, and the industry. When it comes time to present a solution, you should come prepared with expert product knowledge, relevant sales materials, demos, etc. Preparation will help you build credibility and respect with clients.
Don’t: Talk about yourself or talk too much. A data-science team at Gong.io analyzed over one million sales calls and found that top sales reps talk for less than half of the conversation. The first time you meet with a prospective client, and throughout exploratory conversations with any of your customers, keep the conversation focused on them and avoid talking about yourself.
Don't: Put competitors down. Professionals should make their company seem unique and better than others, but not by bashing other organizations. Sales goals can be achieved without resorting to talking negatively about the competition. It’s unnecessary and may make you appear less confident.
Don't: Display frustration or anger. Maybe you feel angry because you have lost a few large deals back-to-back or have to deal with a challenging buyer. If your customer picks up on your anger or negative emotions, they may feel uncomfortable. It’s hard to sell people when you are angry and out of control, and anger also prevents you from being innovative and able to adapt to new circumstances.
Don't: Rely exclusively on phone and email. A lot can be lost or misinterpreted in translation when sending emails, leaving voicemails, or texting. These means are necessary for conducting business and especially for communicating with clients who are not local. However, face-to-face communication brings intimacy and relevance to relationships that other forms of conversation cannot.
Selling will always be a human-to-human interaction at its core—and if humans are involved in the sales process, the adage “People do business with people they like” will ring true. Selling etiquette plays an important role in our ability to build trust, maintain long-term relationships with customers, and achieve sales success.
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