When I ask audience members to share the first word that comes to mind when they hear the word “salesman,” they quickly respond with sleazy, pushy, aggressive, manipulative, insurance, car, commission and dishonest.
I then remind the group that they too are salespeople and these terms do not define their professionalism. But, if that is what the population thinks that is the reality of their life’s calling.
But I was reminded again this past weekend of how this less-than-stellar reputation was earned.
I entered the Honda Dealer in upstate New York to find out what it would cost to fix my defective wheel bearings. While we waited for the quote, we decided to check out the Certified Pre-owned vehicles of the same model. (I should have stayed in the waiting room.) Note: My car had over 225,000 miles and was giving me signs that, perhaps, it was time for an updated vehicle.
The next thing I knew, we were sitting at the desk of a car salesman who seemed, right enough, to know his business and at first passed my salesman test. But then, as he realized he had a live-one on the hook, his banter became louder and faster. He talked over my questions, then launched into a bunch of car babble apparently directed toward some rube who did not know cars from third base. He was wrong.
While he was talking, I raised my voice a tad and suggested he “slow down” and perhaps even stop talking. I said, “The paperwork you just gave me raised a few red flags and one of the red flags is you.” (Those were my exact words.)
Not once did he attempt to swing the conversation over to my thoughts, my feelings, my history, my budget, my time constraints and my intended use for the car. I probably embarrassed my wife when I suggested to this ten-year veteran to step down off his horse and come up for a breath of fresh air. And that is exactly what he did, coupled with what might have been considered a sincere apology.
I will end the story here in the interest of time and the chance of you thinking less of me.
My message: This kind of salesmanship is still running rampant out there in consumer land. Mostly by people who think they are smarter than they are, and wiser than their buyers. Most of them are raising red flags and wondering why their paychecks are not larger than they are.
Please heed my words and do not put yourself in this situation. Slow down. Show a little interest in the person you are speaking with. Speak when it is your turn to speak, and only if you can improve upon the silence.
You are here to help people. Don’t ever forget that. You are not in the business of selling vacations. And if you do not take the time or show the interest in learning more about the wants, needs and desires of your prospect/client you might as well raise the red flag and call it a day.
Become the exception. You know exactly how to do that.
Mike Marchev is a down-to-earth motivating sales trainer, author and business coach who specializes in the travel industry. Mike’s column is made possible by AmaWaterways.