Shifting the perception of sellers for the better

All of us who’ve been in sales for any period of time are aware of the widely held stereotypes about salespeople as being purely self-interested and untrustworthy.

Even those who have reached the heights of our profession in B2B selling still encounter these attitudes from time to time from their prospects and buyers.

No one should feel sorry for salespeople because we have created our own problem.

What’s interesting to me is that this perception of sellers is so stubbornly persistent.

Which leads me to believe that we aren’t being sufficiently thoughtful and deliberate in our actions with our buyers as we’d all like to think.

There are a few cornerstones of building trust with a buyer. One of these involves the motives for our actions.

Are you really working with your buyers from the perspective of service and with the objective of helping them achieve their goals? Is your agenda transparent in the sense that they feel that your actions are totally in support of their needs and requirements?

Or do you make them feel that they need to operate on your timeline instead of theirs?

For instance, every time you indulge in pricing gymnastics to accelerate deals in order to close out a month or a quarter, you’re chipping away at whatever trust you’ve developed with a buyer.

And you’re reinforcing the negative stereotype of salespeople who are primarily interested in their commission.

Mahatma Gandhi said “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”

This is exactly what happens with your buyers. For example, once you’ve forced them to work on your timeline instead of theirs by offering a special price or deal terms, the level of trust will always be diminished. Instead of a partnership built on trust, you’ll have a transactional relationship that will never fulfill its potential.

Another cornerstone of trust is integrity.

Oftentimes sellers confuse integrity with honesty. You can be honest and still lack integrity.

Before you rush to and tell me that it defines integrity as being honest and having strong moral principles, there is another definition of integrity that is vitally important to buyers. It is the state of being whole and undivided.

It means that there is alignment between your words and your actions.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite American philosophers and poets (a fact which loyal readers will recognize) said “What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.”

This congruence of thoughts, words and actions is what buyers quickly perceive when they decide whether to invest some of their time to build a relationship with you.

For instance, do you make commitments to help your buyers that you don’t live up to? Do you ask questions and not listen to the answers? Do you state an intention to help but then answer the buyer’s questions on your timeframe instead of theirs? Do you sell the way the customers want to buy?

The only way to alter your buyers’ negative perception of sellers is to change it one sales person at a time.

Therefore, we each have to take responsibility for being more thoughtful and deliberate about how we engage with them. We have to be more transparent with buyers about our motives and agenda.

Your prospects know that it’s your job to sell your product to them.

It’s also your job to ensure that you and your buyer are in alignment about how you will work together to make that happen. And, to make sure that your actions support your words.