When Buyers Avoid Your Sales People

by David P. Snyder
Business Development Counsel,
Headway Workforce Solutions

How many of your potential customers go out of their way to avoid your salespeople while shunning your company like the plague? Many customers shop around for vendors who possess similar values and behavior patterns and who have a similar outward image with regard to lifestyle. For example, Bill Bonnstetter, president of ITT Performance Systems, conducted a study that revealed farmers would go to great lengths to buy from people who looked, dressed, and acted just like them, and who appeared to be outwardly "respectable."

...want to deal with salespeople who share similar values.

Many buyers in the marketplace, including corporate buyers controlling large accounts, act like those farmers. Some only want to deal with salespeople who share similar values. The sales profession is grueling, competitive, and requires super stamina. Even if most of your people have that stamina, some corporate buyers might have a negative impression of your salespeople. If you can help your salespeople better manage your company's image, you reduce the risk of having your salespeople shunned.

Before I describe the salesmanship that most corporate prospects are looking for, in terms of image, attitude, and behavior, I will briefly review the basic buying types in the marketplace.

Basic Types of Customers

I use a four-quadrant model of behavioral psychology as they apply to sales. In brief, you have two types of people-dynamic and discerning.

Dynamic Buyers

Dynamic, extroverted types come in two classes-highly driven, ambitious people or people who tend to be friendly or influential. Dynamic people are distinguishable from discerning people by two simple clues: they move a lot, and they talk a lot. They are enveloped by a sense of urgency. Driven people talk about themselves. Friendly people tend to talk about you or events in the news. Once you make this distinction, you can move on to a deeper analysis of "ego needs."

Highly driven or ambitious people tend to be CEO's and entrepreneurs. They don't hire too many people who are as ambitious as they are, so you rarely find more than one of this type at the top of a company. Highly driven people are insecure and have a profound need for others to view them as important. You must treat them with respect, speck quickly and to the point, and show them how to increase their effectiveness and bottom line. In terms of your mannerisms, you should carry yourself like a three-star general. But just never forget who the four-star general is.

Customers who are predominantly influencing or friendly have a profound need to be accepted and approved. You will find many of them in marketing jobs or in politics. They are enthusiastic, upbeat, and eager to please. They also want to know that your product or services will make them look better in the eyes of their colleagues and in the eyes of the world. They want to know that you are helping them to improve their image as an up-to-date leader. And they also need to know that the relationship or friendship you have formed with them is ultimately more important to you than the sale.

Discerning Buyers

Discerning or more introverted buyers, who represent about half of the population, experience a great deal of frustration with salespeople, mainly because salespeople tend to be both highly driven and highly influential. This serves them well when they are selling to impulse buyers who think and act like they do, but their sales strategies tend to backfire when they are selling to the more soft-spoken and cautious types who recoil at any display of hype.

Discerning buyers come in two basic varieties. One is your steadfast type, representing about 40 percent of the population. They are calm, self-effacing, trustworthy, loyal, community-oriented, and diligent. The other discerning type is the person who is conscientious. Most corporate buyers tend to fall into this category.

What Corporate Buyers Need

Most sales training is based around an obsession with Sales Force Automation tools as magic bullets for increased sales performance. While technology has its advantages, it has some serious setbacks, too. It teaches salespeople to think that a "one size fits all" sales approach will work with all customers. If you pester them enough times, the logic goes, they are bound to break down and buy sooner or later. With corporate buyers, nothing could be further from the truth.

Primary goal:
The salespeople must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or she has done everything possible to help the corporate buyer make the best possible decision.

Corporate buyers do not want your sales technology-they want your brain. They don't care if you know how many times you have contacted them; they simply want to know what analysis you have given to the issues they raised the last time you talked.

Successfully managing relationships with corporate buyers will require most salespeople to reinvent themselves and change their point of view. They will have to stop talking and start listening. They will have to prove that they truly put the needs of the customers first. They might have to actually turn off their computers, and go visit their prospects with a legal pad and a few pencils in hand. In the end, the primary goal of the salespeople working with the corporate buyer should be this: The salespeople must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or she has done everything possible to help the corporate buyer make the best possible decision.

Educating salespeople to make good decisions, giving them the tools they need to relate to people, and giving them the time and direction they need to prioritize these decisions and act upon them is the agenda of effective sales training.