I had a very interesting conversation with a sales friend of mine this week. He was bemoaning that he was not highly regarded, or well thought of, by his teammates and leaders at his sales organization. He told me that he perceived that co-workers were making malicious comments about his skills and his character. Obviously, not a great situation or work environment.
I know this individual fairly well and was somewhat surprised to hear all of this. I gave some positive comments and made myself available to listen whenever he needed to talk to someone.
But our conversation got me thinking…how does one repair and restore one’s reputation in the sales world?
The first question I would ask someone who perceives that their reputation is damaged is, “Are these thoughts just in your head or are they real?” Sales can be very stressful and we all get into funks and have times of ‘burnout.’ Sometimes it feels like all the stars are aligned against you…revenue goals, business conditions, challenging customers, or even just physical fatigue. If you’re feeling that your reputation is in bad shape because of any of these factors, then it’s most likely just a ‘speed bump’ and it’s not the reality of the situation.
However, if you’re actually hearing comments or trusted friends are telling you what they’ve heard, then you’ve got a massive problem to deal with.
Your own reputation is a main factor in determining if will be successful or not in sales. In fact, the more targeted your industry is, the more critical your reputation will be in achieving your revenue goals. My sales and sales management career has been focused on the advertising and media sales industry in Southern California. This is a very tight-knit community and, as the saying goes, everybody knows everybody. If you’re selling in a small industry like this, your sales style will be known by all of your customers.
Your Internal Reputation
You can be the greatest salesperson in the world but if you can’t collaborate and effectively work with your internal teammates, then the likelihood of a successful follow-up and completion of your sale is non-existent. Your teammates who manage your accounts (customers), help with marketing research, assist with marketing and collateral, and execute the sale all have intimate knowledge about your work habits and how you treat “support” teams. All of these teams know who the great salespeople are and who are the salespeople who are difficult to work with.
It is absolutely critical to treat your teammates as your “internal customers” and behave with them as you would with your “external customers.” First off, it is just basic common courtesy to treat others with respect…it’s the “golden rule.” It’s also good for your business.
Your External Reputation
Think about how your customers perceive you…or how they would describe you to one of their co-workers. Would they describe you as someone who they look forward to meeting with? As someone that provides them with information that is valuable and useful to them at work? If you’re going to be successful in sales, then your customers need to view you as an asset to their business. I’ve hired a lot of salespeople and one of the first things I do is talk to customers that both the candidate and I know well. I’ll ask these customers to tell me about the person that I’m potentially hiring. A red flag for me is when a customer describes the candidate as “too salesy.” Now, some of you might wonder what is wrong with being “too salesy.” After all, we’re all in sales and our job is to sell and exceed our revenue targets.
Remember one key element in sales: Customers don’t want to be sold to…but customers love to buy something. Think about how you personally shop at a store…you may have a product in mind and are ready to buy it. But aren’t you more likely to buy it if the salesperson in the store provides information useful in your buying decision rather than appear they are only it in for their commission? The same is true in any kind of sales.
Your reputation, both internal and external, is critical to your financial and career success. Think about how your co-workers and customers perceive you. Think about how they would describe you to others. If you have any doubts about their perceptions, then you need to work on improving your (sales) reputation…which we’ll talk about next week.