As the year progresses, there are lots of questions we each need to answer for ourselves. What will this year hold for you? You may feel pressure to hold to your resolutions already: be healthier: play more: be more productive. But with all these new goals in mind, let’s take a minute to see these as new choices rather than a new standard to hold firm to. In this way, you can see the opportunity you have every day to make whatever your choice is again and again. If you choose not to make the healthy choice one day, then wake up the next day and take the chance to make a different choice.
To that end I ask, what type of salesperson will you choose to be ? In my experience, there are two basic types, the giver and the taker. Which one are you now? And can you change from one to the other? Perhaps you have giver days and taker days? Or maybe you fall somewhere in the middle.
the TWO TYPES
Think of the people you encounter in life, whether it is someone trying to sell you something, or maybe even a friend or casual acquaintance. All people in our lives seem to fall into a giver or a taker category for each of us. As you reflect on who falls into each category, feelings and images are likely to come to mind that may be either positive or negative depending on how you view each person. Do you find that more positive or more negative thoughts come to mind based on the category you place your person? Do you have friends who have changed from one side to the other over time, therefore altering your relationship or perception of their value to you?
the taker –WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
In general, a taker would be those around you that constantly stay focused on the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question as it relates to their own benefit. When you encounter a taker, you know from the beginning that their commitment to you and your involvement is based on what you commit to give back to them. A typical taker may ask questions like those below on a sales call:
- What will you buy from me today?
- What product can I sell you?
- Which of my lines will you support?
- Why won’t you give me your business?
These are all valid questions and at times may be timely to ask. I have seen many taker personalities be successful asking these or other similar questions. A transaction with a taker can be to the point, down to business and black and white. With some buyers, this may be just what is needed to drive a successful relationship and grow your sales.
There are, however, a couple of potential weaknesses in the taker approach. First, your potential customer may feel you are only there for yourself and that you do not value them or their business. Second, you may miss additional opportunities by approaching a sale from the mindset of seeking out only what is in your toolbox for the day. Many times the customer’s needs are hidden, even to them, until you are able to uncover their pain points and help them work towards a solution.
the giver –WHAT CAN I HELP YOU WITH?
On the flip side, you can experience the giver. They are there to ‘help’ you. The giver will approach the sales process with the ‘How can I help?’ question first and foremost as their strategy to close the deal. Dealing with a giver can relieve some pressure on the buying side and feel like you have someone on your side to service your needs. Questions to be asked by a giver may look like this:
- What struggles are you faced within your business today?
- Will any of my products fill a gap in your line up?
- Which of my lines will best support your efforts?
- What can I do to support your business?
This approach can create an atmosphere of less pressure for those on the buying end. If they truly feel you are there as a partner, they may be more willing to open up and reveal their issues and opportunities. More open-ended questions like these will allow your buyer to open up without them fearing having to commit solely to supporting you.
As with the taker though, there are some drawbacks to working in this style. For example: Are you generating any income with no pressure on your buyer? Many times, if the buyer does not feel that you have a need to move things forward, they will not commit to you or they can drag their feet in the process. You just may be the nice guy your customer likes but does not support. Furthermore, some people may not trust your ‘how can I help’ routine and view it as a front to manipulating them into buying from you. After all, we have trained ourselves to be on guard around salespeople through negative experiences we have had with a bad sales call.
will EITHER WORK?
So if each has good and bad points what is a person to do? Should you accept what your natural tendencies are and get what you can with the handicap that may accompany your style? Or does one style weigh in with better results proven over time? To these questions, we could converse for years as to which would be more effective and for what reasons each should be the better. We can start that discussion once they finalize the debate over the chicken and the egg. I can, however, offer my point of view from the experiences I have seen from both sides of the table.
the MAGIC BLEND
I would argue that, whatever your natural style lends you to lead with, you should be aware of your biases so that you can lean a little bit more in the other direction. This is not to say that you should abandon your style, or change personalities, as this is you after all, and the success you have so far is because of who you are. Just be careful that you are not held back from even more success in spite of yourself.
You will see these styles blended perfectly in a call where the experienced sales rep can be attentive to the customer needs while being upfront about their own as well. This could be relayed in comments or questions like these:
- As you know, I have targets I need to hit and you have some gaps to fill. Let’s explore some areas where I may have solutions to your business needs and they will help me with my business as well.
- While I do not want to disrupt the competitive programs you have in place, I would like to identify some opportunities to work together to grow our mutual business.
- I am happy to invest the time to grow our trust and partnership. If we can start with the first steps of ABC, can you commit to reviewing the bigger opportunities of XYZ at the end of a set time frame?
Questions and comments of this nature, show that while you are there to be a partner and help, you are also clear in your needs. This leaves little room for a lack of clarity for either side to feel disappointed when there was not a commitment upfront. After your first steps of exploring, you can then review the benefit you are both seeing and evaluate the next steps to drive the business forward.
How do you do this? Try to gain a little perspective from the other side of the equation. You must first identify your style. Now, which will you be in 2016: a giver, a taker, or a little of each? Pay attention to your first instinct in how you approach your process and once you have determined which side of the coin you identify more with, consider the questions below.
- As a giver, you may need to ask if you are getting sucked into activity that is not revenue-generating? Are you giving too much? Are you motivated to help your customers solely to create solutions for them? Consider paying extra attention to tracking the revenue generated from each of your activities.
- As a taker, you may need to take an extra minute before you turn down the chance to be involved in projects where your benefit is not clearly identified. Ask yourself: Could this bring a long term benefit that I am not seeing right now? Avoid your instinct to make a decision immediately based on your short term gain. You may still need to walk away from certain projects, but an extra review of the benefits will be a good exercise.
Thank you for making the choice to stay on this journey with me. I am very grateful for any of you who share with your network through any likes and shares you are willing to give and look forward to interacting with you in the comments section below.