If random people were simply asked, “What’s the first thing that pops into your head  when you hear the word salesperson?” The answers would inevitably include; talkative, pushy, dishonest, annoying and arrogant. Yet, if those same people were asked , “What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word consultant?” Those answers would probably contain words like; trustworthy, caring,  interested, knowledgeable and helpful. But the ultimate question is: “What’s the difference between a salesperson and a consultant?”, and the answer is: perception!

The bad news is that we can’t control the fact that perceptions are realities, but the good news is that we can control our actions that impact those perceptions that become realities. Stereotypically, average salespeople really are talkative, pushy, dishonest, annoying and arrogant! That’s because too much talking and not enough listening is the standard mouth-to-ear ratio of the common salesperson.  As a result, the perception of anyone in the sales industry is in the same regard.

My wonderful grandparents from Italy lived with us when I was in high school. It seemed like every day, Popi would do something to annoy Nonna and you could hear her all the way downstairs ranting & raving in Italian. After about five minutes, when Popi apparently reached his limit and you would clearly hear him shout, “Ah, shut-uppa you!” (I guess there was no translation), and then there was silence.

I often think about that childhood experience in sales situations and wonder how often prospects would like to give annoying salespeople one good “shut-uppa you” and wait for the silence.

I can remember someone once saying to me, “You must be great in sales because you’re a good talker.” I beg your pardon, I thought. It’s actually quite the contrary!  

Here’s the golden rule in professional sales, we’ve been given two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion. In other words, listen twice as much as we talk and talk only half as much as we listen!

We all know that gut-wrenching feeling when we need to make a purchase that requires a salesperson, for example automobiles, insurance, appliances or even electronic devices. It’s not the investment of whatever we’re considering buying that causes the most anxiety, it’s the fear of being taken advantage of by the sales representative that talk us into a corner, right?

It’s true that people won’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care in anything in life. But it is especially true in the sales process when “people” are our prospects. If they first know how much we care, then they will care how much we know, which also makes them more comfortable to buy from us. That confirms the cliché that “people will buy from people that they like”, because people like sales professionals that they trust because of their integrity not their words!

Diane Ciotta
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