Straightforward Sales: The Advantage of ‘Telling It Like It Is’

Oct 06, 2010 — Allan Pulga

Last May, ForeSee Results reported that online customer satisfaction has been on the rise. Satisfaction levels with computer and electronics e-tailers, for example, went up from 74 to 78 percent between 2009 and 2010. A big reason why consumers enjoy shopping online is because it is simple and convenient. Another reason? Consumers often don’t want to be “sold to” by overeager salespeople.

Considering this example, it makes sense that straightforward salespeople are more successful than dawdling ones. In fact, back in March, we published an article about the importance of keeping your sales pitch short and simple (see Not Too Much Product Knowledge!).

Barry Farber, Entrepreneur.com’s resident sales guru, recently wrote a column (Sept. 2) about why straightforward salespeople close more deals. “Simply put, tell it like it is, and you’ll reap the benefits: better communication, stronger relationships, trust, dependability and (an improved) overall comfort level,” he writes.

To identify the keys to being a more straightforward salesperson, Farber asks the following questions:

Are you trying to please everyone? Farber quotes Bill Cosby, who said, “The key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Farber says you will inevitably encounter customers you cannot please. “Maybe what we’re selling does not fit into their needs at the time… or they just don’t like you. Great salespeople know when to move on and do not change their value or beliefs for someone just to please them or close the sale. They don’t take it personally, either, because there are so many reasons involved in why someone selects you over the competition.”

Some keys to remember: Stay confident; bring value to the sale; share honest information that could be interpreted as detrimental to the sale (e.g. Honestly, customers have complained about this phone’s battery life not being very long.); build strong relationships with straightforward advice.

Do you tell people what you sell? While this question applies more to people selling over the phone or pitching intangible services like insurance, it can be interpreted for wireless retail as: Can you quickly match customer needs to a specific product/service?

A customer visiting your store is likely looking for a new phone, and if so, you must quickly identify what kind of phone they want. If they’re not shopping for a phone, then you point them towards whatever plan, accessory, service, etc. they’re looking for.

“Your pitch should be right to the point and easy to understand,” Farber says. “Keep it simple and short.”

Do you know when to walk away? “There is nothing that builds more trust in a relationship than telling your customer that what you sell is not the best solution for their current situation,” Farber says. “The customer will not only appreciate your candid response but will never again question your advice in the future. In these situations, often they will refer you to some of their contacts, and there is nothing more valuable than that kind of introduction.

“No one likes losing an opportunity… but when that opportunity is a bad fit and you press forward anyway, you risk losing repeat business and something much more valuable: your reputation. I’d much rather lose one battle and win the war.”

Do you seek out the superstars? “Every company and every industry has someone who performs at the top of their field. Find out who these people are and try to connect with them; get their advice and emulate their selling style. Their experience will give you valuable lessons on how they ‘tell it like it is’ with their clients. When you surround yourself with successful people, their strategies and approaches rub off on you.”

Finally, Farber writes, “being straightforward in your sales approach is a breath of fresh air for most customers. They see you as someone they can trust and always know where you stand. If you want to be great in sales, establish your character first.”

Topics: Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce

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