Where to draw the line.

That’s a good question…..

When training a sales team from Samsung recently, I was asked a question which prompted a lot of thought and soul searching.  I was able to answer it, but was the answer just too easy? 

The question?   Where does an ethical sales person ‘draw the line’?

The answer is simple, and quite straight forward: ‘wherever your conscience lets you draw the line’.  This is obvious, clear and fits all.  However, is it a helpful answer?

The example given by the team member was of a potential customer who used their own ‘pressure buying’ techniques that quickly strayed into bullying; the Genghis Kahn school of negotiation.  Apparently, the buyer would throw his pen onto the table and demand loudly that they accept his terms or get out.  Other tactics of similar aggressive and intimidating nature were used.  Unfortunately, the team member, while an experienced sales person, was not able to walk out on the negotiations as he had been instructed to pursue the business and to win it.  Would YOU sit there and take that abuse?

He had my sympathy.  Most experienced sales people have had situations of similar severe discomfort.  While the buyer rants, raves and threatens, you are sat there wrestling with your own conscience and professionalism. What are your options?

There are many as every situation is different and requires some ‘thinking-on-your-feet’.

Below I describe the two extremes and an ideal. 

1/  Fight back?  This is the most satisfying.  Potentially it can gain respect from the buyer and a mutually beneficial solution could be possible.  However, it is extremely risky, as it may escalate the emotions and temper to the point where errors are made, opportunities are lost, and things are said that should never be said by true professionals.  Are you reducing your own standards by lowering yourself to their position?

2/  ‘Take it on the chin’; in other words, sit there and use silence or passive resistance as your main tool of defense.  This is a very professional approach that will make the buyers behavior seem very childish and clearly bullying in comparison.  However, there is also the risk that they will then take your reluctance to engage in a fight as weakness and assume their argument has been won.

3/  A carefully judged balance between the two, whereby you respond to aggressive posturing with a firm insistence and repeated ‘no’.  Your volume would be higher than usual but less than theirs; maintain eye-contact as much as possible; your words would again be professional, but your manner should show you standing firm but being fair.  Consistency, professionalism, repetition and firmness are needed, with a clear message that you will not be intimidated.

The salesman was strong and held his ground as best he could.  Give-in to a bully and they will always bully you.  If you cannot work with them, and you have the authority, you can walk away, but do not let them win.

Yes, it is up to you and your conscience.  Sometimes it may be a balance between needs and conscience.  Apply your own positive, firm approach but do your best not give in to intimidation. When you can, retain the moral ‘high ground’ and give little away.  No-one likes a bully, and it is a great shame that some believe this is the way to behave in modern society.  However, one cannot deny that they still exist, and we must deal with them while achieving our objectives AND remaining professional.

Slow summer sales and the best way of filling a ‘Lull’

What does summer mean to your business?

What does THIS summer mean to your business?

Are you expecting a rush of new business to come to you?  Perhaps other businesses want to invest in you before the markets change, which will happen inevitably.

Or, are you expecting the normal summer lull to be worse than in previous years as, following ‘Brexit’, your customers are being cautious with their investments?

Perhaps you have the type of business which is not seasonal AND is resilient to change in the markets.

In most cases, businesses are expecting some form of downturn or lull in the coming months.  I believe, with careful handling, the pace of change is likely to be slow enough that the markets will not suffer greatly and businesses will become cautiously optimistic over the coming months.  I think WE MUST be optimistic of a favourable outcome.  If we are not, then we should give up now, and that approach is not for us!

So, the old adage ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ could never be more appropriate.

In every lull there is a need to fill the ‘spare’ time or effort with profitable activities.  What better way to fill the time than by training and coaching yourselves or your team to perform significantly better?  When markets start to improve again, for whatever reason, you can then hit the ground running with new knowledge and skills that will help your business to outperform all others.

Reinforcing skills and discovering new ideas and strategies can only make a positive difference to your sales growth and build your business during difficult times.

July and August are the ideal times to improve your skills and your performance.  There will then be time to apply your new skills and boost your end-of-year figures. 

Is that not worth the investment?

Click HERE for a REAL INCENTIVE to book some training.

Why ‘TECHNICAL’ Sales Training?

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT ‘TECHNICAL SALES TRAINING’ ?Salient Technical Sales

Good, standard ‘Sales Training’ covers all the bases and offers proven skills and techniques that result in excellent sales conversion in any market.

‘Technical Sales Training’ does all of the above, but also adds in the extra level of skill needed to sell into technical markets, such as:

  • Identifying all decision makers, technical and commercial
  • Building relationships with engineers as well as buyers
  • Understanding and adapting to the different needs of technical and commercial personnel
  • Ensuring all specification and quality needs are addressed as well as price, deliveryand other commercial requirements

General Sales Training can be adapted for individual businesses, but it is Technical Sales Training that covers all the issues that can be experienced when two very diverse mindsets have to be satisfied before a sale can happen.

CASE STUDY (personal experience as a sales novice; from the early part of my sales career!)

A large established customer specialising in car instrumentation needed specialist electronic circuitry to be manufactured in significant quantities.

The Chief Engineer called me in and over 4-5 months our parts were prototyped, quality checked and ‘designed-in’.  The Chief was very pleased and said the order for the first million parts would be with us in a matter of weeks.

Nothing happened and contact attempts were ignored so I made another appointment to see him.  At this meeting I learned that our main rival had won the business!  The Chief was furious as he had not had parts from them and had not met with any of their personnel.  He wanted to give us the business but had been over-ruled by the purchasing department who had approved our competitors using an extensive paperwork exercise(!)

The lessons:  Always involve both technical and commercial personnel in any sales approach, and avoid assumptions, such as who is the decision maker.

I never made that mistake again!

This is a classic example of just one of the issues that can be faced when selling into technical markets.  There are many more as it is rare that technical personnel understand the needs and priorities of the commercial department, and vice versa.

Those skilled in technical sales can overcome all these issues and more.

The courses are ideal for technicians and engineers moving into sales as well as for commercially trained personnel needing to sell into technical markets.

For more information, contact Andy on 01793 843118, or 07941 041364, or email andyentwistle@salientsales.co.uk