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    How to be a Good Sales Rep

    We’re evaluating some new CRM options, and several people have recommended Salesforce. I had a chat with a sales rep from the company, and man, he was a GOOD sales person. We’ve also brought in some consultants for sales training, and after the initial phone call, I told our management team, “We just need to get our sales reps to do exactly what that guy just did. He’s a GREAT sales rep.” So, what are these people doing to be such good sales people?

    Mutual benefit. A lot of sales reps just blather on about how great their product is, how much money/time/whatever they can save you, and how many more dollars you could earn if you just purchase their product. They never stop to ask whether we’d be a good customer for them. Do our needs actually align with what they’re offering? I know they haven’t thought about this because they’re so focused on “selling” me something! Both of the reps that I liked have asked questions that indicate that they want to work with companies that also meet their needs. Are we going to be a time suck? Will their product fail to meet our needs, resulting in unhappy customers with bad reviews? It’s not just about selling me a product, it’s about creating a win-win situation for BOTH parties.

    Ask probing questions. Both of these reps asked a lot of open-ended questions, and they drilled down to the very root of the issue. Everyone wants to save time or make more money, so if I tell you that’s our goal, it’s not helping. What problems, EXACTLY, are causing you to lose time? Which areas, EXACTLY, do you think you could earn more? They didn’t feed me answers to lead me to their product, but just probed and probed until they hit on a problem they could solve. Plus, they gained a ton of insight into my business, my pain points, and my ability/timeline for making a decision.

    Follow up nicely. Remember this rep that drove me nuts because he just wouldn’t take “no” for an answer? Both of my likeable reps asked if they could follow up, and asked about my preferred method of communication. If they weren’t available, they gave me alternate contact information for someone who was also helping with our account. Most of all, they didn’t badger me! This was partly because of the mutual fit and probing questions mentioned above. They already knew that if they had to chase me that hard for the business, it probably wasn’t a fit. Their questions revealed my timeline, key decision-makers, and milestones that had to happen prior to purchase. They’d send a “checking in” email every few weeks, and eventually, we made the choice to move ahead or move on.

    Know me, know my business. I’m always amazed at good sales reps’ ability to pick up names and businesses at lightning speed. But in reality, that’s part of their job! The consultants made a point to learn all the reps’ names, and call them by name any chance they had. The Salesforce rep started using the same industry jargon that I explained almost immediately. In short, these guys made my business their business. This goes back to the mutual benefit… it’s not a one-off product sale to them, it’s a profitable partnership. If they can figure out a way to help me, they in turn help themselves.

    I’ve dealt with a lot of reps in my career, and these two stand out as pleasant and effective. Which kind of rep are you?

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    2 Responses to “How to be a Good Sales Rep”

    1. Joe Kiszka says:

      You’ve hit all of the major ones, I think. I’d word them a bit differently, with pretty much no different meanings.:

      Mutual Benefit – I’d say “think win-win.” (Also one of Covey’s 7 habits.)

      Probing Questions – I’d say “The salesperson’s best tool is the question.”

      Follow Up Nicely – I’d say “Stay visible.” However, this depends largely upon what kind of sales you’re in…

      In addition, I’d say a few more off the top of my head:

      -Practice the “golden silence.” Listen a lot. Give the customer a chance to respond.

      -NEVER over promise and under deliver.

      There’s probably a few more, but those are the biggies. :-)

    2. Ashley Faus says:

      Haha, I knew you’d have something to contribute, Joe! The “golden silence” is a good one, we work on that with our sales guys a lot. They always want to rush in to give a solution, but sometimes it’s better to wait until the problem is just a little bigger and a little more painful before swooping in and saving the day :)

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