Opinion

Sales techniques need to move with the times

4 min read

06 June 2014

Old fashioned sales techniques just won’t hack it in today’s market. It has taken us all a while to catch on but there are still companies out there who think otherwise.

I was trained in the hard sell, dipping in and out of rather dubious sales jobs in my early years, selling anything and everything by telephone. 

The pushy techniques used to secure appointments for selling somewhat second rate wines for example incorporated every hard sell technique known to man to overcome objections and secure the deal.

Business people and the public have wised up. They hear the notorious double glazing techniques and hang up at the earliest opportunity.

It always surprised me when in more purportedly more respectable jobs within service industries such as estate agents and employment agencies, the teaching such as it was remained firmly based on the same principles. 

It was all about making as many appointments for viewing / interviews as possible, on a blanket approach that sheer volume would produce results and over-looking the obvious truths that totally wasting a client’s time with unsuitable properties and applicants did not actually equate to good service. 

Yet for decades we all put up with it. Small wonder sales people had a dubious and often sleazy reputation with egos that seemed impossible to dent.

Today’s successful sales person has to have a much more balanced ego. It remains not a job for the insecure. All humans are dogged by some degree of fear of rejection and there is inevitably a chunk of that going to happen. 

They have to be secure enough to take the odd rude encounter, to be honest with their customers about their product and indeed their knowledge – few customers will worry about being honestly told the person selling will find something out and get back to them. Honesty begets trust. It is lies, overselling and the smart Alecs and that overdose of salesman ego we now all find so offensive.

There are sadly people out there who will give sales people a thoroughly unpleasant time, simply on principle. The sales person has to also be secure enough to realise that this is “their stuff” and de-personalize.

The real problem for sales people, be it through too much or too little ego, was always the fear of losing the sale or losing the customer. Good salesmanship today recognizes that selling is a question of sound market research and targeting, followed by open and honest two way communication to see if a product or service will enhance the other person’s lives or businesses.

Yes, it is still necessary to know the basic sales techniques. Open ended questions and ways to negotiate gate-keepers, both real and technological, are a must. Without them, you will fail to talk to the customer and establish their needs. But having done that, in today’s world the salesman must be above all honest and develop genuine relationships with their customers which are all about trust.

Jan Cavelle is the founder of the Jan Cavelle Furniture Company

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