Posted: March 07, 2012
Salespeople: Be honest…gently
It's better for everyoneGary Harvey
"Honesty" and "salesperson" are not commonly two words the general public would pair together in word association exercises. Despite the prevailing stereotype, most salespeople are ethical professionals offering a product or service. However, in some cases, salespeople are afraid to be honest.
Being honest with people helps both parties. The rule for doing this is, “If you feel it, say it gently”. Third party stories are a great way to be honest with prospects and clients without being confrontational. If a prospect tells a salesperson a planned solution to a problem that the salesperson has seen fail, they need to address the issue in a way as though a third party has had a similar experience.
An example? "Not sure it's the case with you, and honestly it may not be, however when that has been implemented in the past by other companies I know, I have seen them run into problems A, B and C. Do you foresee that as an issue for you or does it make sense we discuss those problems?"
Sometimes, salespeople need to be honest for the sake of sales efficiency. Clients and prospects commonly stall salespeople with think-it-over’s and other polite "nos." Again, that's a good time to be honest.
While salespeople can't accuse a prospect of putting them off and wasting time, they can say (gently), "It's probably not happening here, but when a prospect tells me they want to think it over, it often means no in my world, but they're too nice to tell me since they don’t want to hurt my feelings. I just want to make sure that's not what's happening here. It’s okay to tell me it’s a no."
There are an infinite number of examples in selling where salespeople get uncomfortable being honest. Typically we're uncomfortable because we fear a negative reaction. While negative responses do happen, most people appreciate a sales professional who can foresee complications, will be direct about addressing mistakes and looks to efficiently solve problems.
Remember that tact goes a long way in these situations, and we need to be gentle when relaying the information. When that is mastered you'll find yourself in the fortunate position of being honest with people, and getting the same in return
Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or firstname.lastname@example.org.