Nothing is worse than sales people who fit the stereotype of a sleazy, greedy “used-car salesman”. Whether you’re just starting out in sales or you’ve been doing it for years, chances are you’ve encountered either training, guidance, or been witness to the usage of undesirable tactics to develop business. A good sales person stays away from these methods and builds their brand as an industry expert and business partner, demonstrating that their product or service has value to add.
If you want to ruin your brand as a sales professional, you should try the following:
Bend the Truth. Perhaps the worst thing a sales professional can do is lie to a customer. You should never lie to your customers, as it will most likely come back to bite you when they realize they didn’t get what they were sold. About two years ago, when I was deep in to job search mode, I had my resume posted on Monster.com. One day I got a call from a “recruiter” who had seen my resume posted. During the call, he took about two minutes to discuss me. After a question about if my company had a lot of open positions, the conversation completely turned as the guy began promoting his company’s recruiting and staffing services. Using my desire for a new job to try and lure me to do business with him permanently put that company on my blacklist.
Chew and screw. My most recent example of poor sales practices comes from my recent implementation of a new payroll and HR system. I had called on a sales person who I had done business with before when I was at a larger company. After much pressure from the salesman to sign the contract before month-end so he could guarantee me the lowest price (and so he could meet his sales quota for the month) we finally decided to choose this vendor. My salesman? Never to be heard from again. He dumped me on someone else who was now my new “account manager”. As the implementation went on, it turned out the sales order was found to be missing several of the items we had discussed and causing delays in implementation. If you want to brand yourself as a good sales person – stick with your client until they’re satisfied. It doesn’t mean that you have to implement the solution or deliver the product – but at least check in, see how they’re doing, and offer support.
Be Pushy. Relentless cold calls, adding my e-mail address to your “newsletter” without my permission, and pummeling me with LinkedIn requests is not the way to build a relationship with a potential client. You’re not the first to try these techniques, and you won’t be the last.
Don’t Follow Up. Every year, I attend the largest HR conference and exposition in the U.S. Every year, I hit the trade show floor looking to learn about new products, technology, and services and give my card to those I’m interested. And every year, I’m amazed at how many of these potential vendors never follow up with me after the show. Isn’t that why they’re there after all? What is the point of investing several thousands of dollars to participate in a show and not follow up with those who explicitly tell you that they’re interested in what you’ve got?
Be an Industry Novice. The best sales people are experts and thought leaders within the industry they sell in. Sometimes the best sales people are those who’ve gone from being customers or technical experts to sales positions. If you want to tarnish your brand within the industry – spend no time developing expertise in the market.
A career in sales can be one of the most fulfilling and financially rewarding career paths out there, but being successful in sales does not come easy. It requires candor and honesty, the ability to build mutually beneficial relationships, and the ability to deliver results and follow through on your promises. If you can’t do these things – I’d suggest you try something else.
Mike Spinale is a corporate Human Resources leader at a healthcare information technology company located outside of Boston, Massachusetts and is an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University. He has over eight years of experience in HR and management including career counseling, recruitment, staffing, employment branding, and talent management. Mike has dedicated his HR career to modern views on the field – HR is not about the personnel files – it’s about bringing on the best talent, ensuring they’re in the right seat, and keeping them motivated and growing in their careers. In addition, Mike is the author of the CareerSpin blog where he offers advice and opinion on job search, personal & employment branding, recruiting, and HR. Mike is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Babson College. He is also a board member of the Metro-North Regional Employment Board, a board which sets workforce development policy for Boston’s Metro-North region, and an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Northeast Human Resources Association.