Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sales Pro = Sucker

There’s a common misconception that all great sales pros are equally adept negotiators, presumably because we make our livings haggling for the deal.  While it is true that some sales pros will shop around town grinding out every rep for the best price, what I have found to be more accurate is actually quite the opposite – sales guys are suckers for good salesmanship, price be damned. 

You see, I appreciate the work that goes into finding me the right product and educating me on its benefits.  By the time I’ve put a capable rep through their paces en route to a purchasing decision, I feel compelled to reward them for their stellar performance in my chosen craft.  A few dollars more out of my pocket, maybe.  But it’s also a few more in theirs for a job well done. 

That’s not to say that I won’t ask for a better deal.  Taking the first offer on principle alone is silly.  It’s just that I ultimately want to buy from the best sales person, who probably doesn’t work for the company with the smallest margins, and I respect the effort too much to beat them up and make it all about price.  After all, if I make price my sole buying criteria, then I’m betraying the best practices I preach. 

Perhaps, I am being over idealistic, literally at my own expense.  I just see a moral hazard in effectively using the sales rep for a free education while taking the most valuable resource a sales professional has – time – and then walking away to make a purchase online or at a liquidation center. 

So, beyond my waxing about the merits of proper sales execution, what’s the takeaway for sales pros looking to capitalize on all potential opportunities?  Lay it on thick when selling to other sales pros.  Ask them, “Do you encourage your clients to purchase on price alone?” and when they say “Of course not.”, follow with “Then why are you doing it to me?”  Challenge a sales pro to put their money where their mouth is and buy from the best, not the cheapest.  They’ll reach for their wallet and hand you a commission.