What do you picture in your head while imagining a salesperson? A sleazy guy in his late forties wearing a godawful beige suit and a lousy wig. He greets you with a smile that seems to be glued to his face with industrial epoxy. Or at least something down those lines. Am I right?
Oh, come on you guys. I know I am. I’m always right.
Do you know the worst part? Sales people did this to themselves! They’ve encouraged the growth of stereotypes by blindly following the same old patterns over and over until the point of no return.
“Hello, my name is ______” lined with gold threads decorates their Union Jack.
“The customer is always right… Unless I need him to be wrong for my own reasons, because that clearly makes him wrong” is in their anthem.
“Outdated, useless, sleazy and irritating” are in their daily routine.
We all know them for who they are and we all sincerely hate them with all the might our righteous hearts are capable of. Still, it’s the sales people who are on the top of the food chain. They are the ones who rule the world of technocratic consumerism we are entering.
And, if not for anything else, they’ve made a massive cultural and economic impact.
That’s why secretly, somewhere deep-deep down inside our souls we worship them. We really, sincerely do, because we wish to keep our calendars filled with prosperous meetings and our bank accounts with cash from successful deals.
The flaws of followings
Steve Jobs, Bill gates, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and even Donald trump are all legends. Some even go as far as considering them gods among men. People like them don’t only change the world. They are living proof of one simple concept – business rules work.
I once wrote a post about the greatest Facebook marketing lies people believe in for no reason and in that post I mentioned something deep – the reason why people believe in weird things. We tend to find logic, rationalism, laws and patterns in everything, because that’s how we evolved as a species.
This also makes us believe that following a pattern of someone successful like Elon Musk or Warren Buffet will make us as wealthy (if not more).
Hence all the business books with so called “business tips” that all say the same things over and over. We get recycled ideas in a new wrapping that always share “the one true secret sauce of success” Alas, it has the flavor of toilet paper.
We fail to realize that being Steve Jobs is much more than following tips taken from a book. Heck, if anything, following the rules was the only thing Steve couldn’t do. But, as with anything else in this world, demand gives birth to supply and the same old business practices are now a staple of the industry.
The customer is always right
If there was a sales bible it would have but one page with 5 words on it. Can you guess what they are? That’s right, they are the 5 words from the subhead. How’d you tell so quickly? (wink;)
In reality, they are the five worst words a business owner can imagine.
Firstly, the client isn’t always right. No one can be correct 100% of the time (except for God and humble old me). Implying that the person is correct even if that person is clearly wrong may and will lead to a lot of casualties from business-crashing free shipping and refund policies to a lot of conflict in your own team.
Even worse than that is the necessity, no, the obligation to always say “yes” with a wide smile. And that, my friends, is a terrible idea.
Remember the Yes Man with Jim Carrey? Imagine how horrible that story would have gotten if it wasn’t a Hollywood flick? How long would Jim’s character last in real life?
So why are we’ as business owners always afraid of saying “No” to prospects? Because we are afraid to lose our business, that’s why. The media, the news, the success stories, books and how to guides dictate with persistency that there’s only one right way to run a business.
“I have no time to complete this project with everything else I have on my plate right now, but if I refuse, I will lose a client forever”
“If I say “No” I will be out of business”
“Why would clients come back to me if I refuse them with what they want?”
These are just some of the thoughts that roam in the heads of entrepreneurs from all over the world. What we fail to pay attention to is one simple thing – respect gives birth to loyalty.
None of your clients will be like, “Aw, snaps! These guys don’t want our money because they don’t want to do A, B and C”
Not if you are honest and open with them.
Provide people with a solid reasoning for a denial and you will forever be the guy who treats them with respect. Not only that, but you show equal service to all of your clients regardless of their social status or thickness of wallet.
A “no” is a powerful weapon.
As Tony Schwartz puts it in his Harvard Business Review, “Prioritizing requires reflection, reflection takes time, and many of the executives I meet are so busy racing just to keep up they don’t believe they have time to stop and think about much of anything. Too often — and masochistically — they default to ‘yes.’ Saying yes to requests feels safer, avoids conflict, and takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important.”
Or, in other words, “yes” prevents you from being a respected leader.
Do you want that for your business?
I only take it that the answer is… NO!