Do Not Sell Aggressively – Build Business Relationships Instead
When done well and in the right manner, sales and business development are an essential part of generating and maintaining cashflow in a successful business. What makes a good salesperson, a productive and successful professional salesperson?
I have managed sales and marketing teams during my 20 years in the commercial arena, before I ever worked for myself and I can tell you now that it is most certainly not about the amount of chat and talk you can do that makes the best or most successful salesperson.
To my mind it is about the type of person you are, how focused you are on the job at hand and how you build a business relationship that counts. If you are completely focused on the money end-game and sell aggressively your sales path will not be smooth or sustainable and that is a certainty in my experience.
What Do I Mean By Aggressive Sales?
Aggressive sales to my mind means selling hard and fast, it can mean just talking for the sake of it, it can mean not listening to your customer, not hearing your customer and not understanding your customer. It can mean poetically knocking down the door, charging in for the sale and running on to the next prospect. It can also mean selling something to a customer that they do not want or need.
When you are selling aggressively, you are selling with only the numbers and money goal in mind and little else. You are not selling with strategy, you are not thinking long-term and you will reduce the likelihood of referrals or repeat customers from your ideal market.
When I talk about aggressive sales I am referring to sales where it is completely based on the numbers you work for and nothing else. In business this may not be ideal or productive for the long-term.
Is this what constitutes successful and sustainable business? Is this what you want to be recognized for?
Yes, business is about sales, numbers and cashflow and that matters very much. However, you will achieve much more in terms of sales if you are not aggressive and focused on fast sales and hard sales. That is short term sales, it is not long-term gains, believe me.
When does aggressive sales impact on you?
There are so many ways in which aggressive sales can impact and cost you. It can cost you in terms of your reputation, impact your repeat custom and your business relationships.
In my own business at Bofin Consultancy, I am focused on helping and supporting businesses nationally and internationally with trust, qualified knowledge and guidance to help them overcome their challenges in their business and build sustainable cashflow and recharge revenue. Aggressive and hard sells is just not in my DNA and it is something I hate to see if I am honest, because I know it will not build a sustainable business, fact!
LESSON 1 – Selling The Customer What They Need
I never saw my Dad in a sales role, that all happened before I arrived. My Dad was apparently an amazing salesman, one of the top five in Ireland for a number of years running back in the day and he never really told us, his children. Other people around him informed us.
Dad never boasted, he knew what he was good at but he was not loud about it. He wasn’t the biggest chatterbox in a room. He once told me “Mags don’t ever sell anything to someone that they don’t need or want”, it was a simple piece of advice and it is something that has always stayed with me.
Moving forward to when I was in my early 20s, working in a sales role. One morning I was called into the Managing Directors office after a meeting had been called with other managers. When I went to the office, a department manager highlighted that I had failed to secure substantial custom from a key client. This was the first red light to me, there was a game afoot!!
The Managing Director asked me to explain why I had not sold x amount to that key client (whom I might add I had built a relationship with to get them on the books for this company), it was worth €5,000 to my sales figures.
In that moment, slightly intimidated by the superiors around me I simply said, the client doesn’t want or need that product and if I sold them something they didn’t want or need they would not come back to me. To me, it essentially boiled down to this; I would lose the trust of my client (whom it had taken 6 months to sign as a client in the first place) if I sold them something they did not need.
The Managing Director spoke and said I had made a very valid point. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I was surrounded by mostly aggressive salespeople. I knew then and there that I was not an aggressive salesperson and I never wanted to be. I also realized there were game players. I was not interested in playing games. I am not now and I wasn’t then. I wanted to learn and hone my skills as a professional that clients would trust 100%.
To my mind, yes, I had not sold x amount to the key client and they were my client but also, a key client of the company who employed me, I had built a business relationship where trust existed.
On the flip side, the client returned to me again and again for business and we trusted each other, there was a great business relationship there. This stuff is built, it doesn’t happen overnight but it can be eroded in a minute. They knew that I would not sell them something that they did not need and that would not benefit them. This is really what it boils down to. You are always dealing with people and they are always dealing with you.
LESSON 2 – Your Name Is Everything In Life And In Business
I was in a sales and marketing management role managing a sales team of 10 and we were doing very well, the figures were good, my team were happy, I was happy, our MD was happy and cashflow was strong in a very competitive environment. Everything was happily happy !
I received a call one day from a customer to say that our sales rep who managed their account had failed to turn up for a meeting. As a rule, I never use the word “failed” or “fail” or “failure” but in this instance “failure” is apt.
The customer then went on to tell me that this was not the first time, they didn’t want to cause any trouble but as they were spending a significant amount with us then they felt it was right that they voiced this and that I was aware of it. The customer no longer wanted to deal with this sales representative and I agreed that I would personally take on their account myself.
The rep had signed this client up for more business and it was agreed business on the books. It represented a monthly and strong figure for the rep. The meeting they failed to turn up for had been scheduled purely to confirm specifics.
This team member had now damaged their name with the customer, with me and with the team. They had so much potential but they just wanted to sell hard and fast, earn the bonus, reach the numbers and move to the next sales conquest. We need some of that in sales but we need more than that too.
If you “charge in like Flynn” and secure the business, professional courtesy thereafter does not cost anything and the return is priceless.
Every salesperson needs some hunger and drive, yes, there is value for this and strength in this. However, you need a little more than that. You need strategy, focus and commitment. You need to have a bigger picture focus. If you know that this is not your strength, then go and learn, find out where you can access the knowledge, accept the lesson.
I was not a naturally good salesperson, in fact I hated the thought of having to do sales at all. Shocker right!! I learned to listen. I learned to learn. I learned with the right guidance and manager nurturing my potential to simply “have the conversations” and build the relationships, that is what it comes down to.
You need to look at sales with strategy. Yes, you need the numbers but you need the balance too. Building relationships with your customers is key, understanding what they need and want is also key. Treat your customers/clients with courtesy and respect, thank them for their business every time. It counts.
Do not follow the lead of the herd, be yourself in sales. Remember people deal with people, they have done for hundreds of years and they will do for years to come.
Top Secret: your customer and the savvy person will see through the bluff every time, I see through it, we all do as customers, remember this when/ if you are in sales. It a simple secret, we need to heed the simple stuff.
Have that commitment and focus and go getter attitude but strategy and professional process to your sales as well. If you can, find someone whom you trust to guide you correctly in a way that you know is not aggressive.