The Impact of Sales Approaches

February 2019

Close-up woman signing contract for new car

Photo: iStock

Whether you are interacting in a sales capacity with a prospect for the first time, or pitching a complex proposal to an existing client, you are the face of your organization and should always adhere to best sales practices. 

In order to authentically solve your customer’s problems with your company’s solutions, it’s best to align yourself with your company’s values and mission to effectively promote products and services to your end users. If your marketers have made a compelling case for your brand’s purpose, people will use the reason why your company exists as the foundation of their purchasing decisions, resulting in a smoother path to revenue.

Contact sport

On a recent end-of-month winter weekend, with my husband in tow, I shopped for a new car. (I can hear your groans!) After our online research, it was time to interact with people and products—test drive, negotiate the best deal and, ultimately, make a purchase. 

Our experience at the various car dealerships on a busy Saturday were a mix of pleasant and poor. The encounters with the sales professionals inspired me to reflect on the impact of a company’s representative and their sales approach on a customer. And, how purchasing decisions are often based on emotion and backed up with logic.

About Biff and building my trust

“Some of the features I want in a compact SUV are all-wheel drive, blind-spot detection, keyless access with push-button start, a premium audio system, heated seats, a moonroof and built-in navigation,” I said to a car salesperson named Biff. “No, no … you don’t want built-in navigation,” Biff said. “But I do … it’s what I have now and I like it,” I replied. “No, you need to have Apple CarPlay,” Biff said. “That will use too much data and my cell phone is used, in part, for work … no, I want built-in navigation,” I countered. Biff continued to strongly put forth his preference over mine.   

This lengthy and strained tête-à-tête was unexpected. I was hoping for a salesperson that listened to my needs and steered me toward the best match. And if there was a better solution for me to consider, a gentler nudge in that direction would have been welcome, rather than an off-putting, bold declaration. 

At the end of our encounter, I thanked Biff for his time on a busy Saturday. He responded, “Not a problem. I’m glad you speak English … so many people I wait on do not.” Here’s where the face of a brand, at the hands of a self-described top salesperson with more than 20 years of experience, went very far off the rails.

The exchange with Biff—from the first to the gnarly last impression—left me wondering if his agenda was to promote a particular model vehicle and not what I wanted to see. It didn’t take long for me to question his reliability and, therefore, there was no trust built … and no sale.

About Manny and his no-getter attitude

“This model is all-wheel drive. What else can you tell me about it?” I said as I test-drove a higher-end and truly tempting compact SUV. “Well, I told you it was AWD. It’s good in the snow,” muttered Manny, the next sales professional we encountered. A long pause ensued. Was I to pose more specific questions while driving this foreign beauty, or was Manny’s role to strike an optimistic tone and offer me more deets, leaving me assured of my smart choice? Most of my questions were met with a pithy response and even a shrug of his shoulders. 

Manny’s pitch was abandoned at the one-mile mark and his tone had the effect of a lumbering Eeyore-type character. As the customer, I tried to be a good communicator, but as the sales professional, Manny did not reciprocate. His lack of engagement resulted in no trust being built.

About Pat and being a good listener

On to the next car manufacturer, and unsure of which model to choose, we met Pat (or rather he suddenly appeared as we emerged from our car). Here’s a list of all the things this salesperson did right: 

  • Listened to my wish list and interjected minimally in the preliminary stage.
  • Confirmed back to me his understanding of my wants and needs.
  • Exercised patience and was pleasant.
  • Valued my time. 
  • Committed to helping. 
  • Possessed product knowledge.
  • Moved through the stages of the sales process making next steps clear.
  • Delivered the product demo in a calm manner.
  • Proved reliable in following up. 
  • Kept written correspondence brief and focused on benefits.
  • Was transparent by not overpromising. 

People buy from people they like. Pat skillfully guided us to the model that would best fit my needs. I felt comfortable with this overall experience and I was armed with lots of information. Besides realizing that I liked this car over all of the others I had considered, the trust that was built expedited the sale. 

Moving forward, I will be reminded of the good, the bad and the ugly of sales approaches when representing my company. And, I expect to enjoy my new Subaru Forester for many moons and many miles to come.

Thank you for reading this.

—Maureen Joyce