The negative stereotype of salespeople being pushy, calculating people who'll do anything to make a sale isn't mentioned as much in popular culture these days. This may be due partly to the fact that the sales profession has grown more sophisticated in this century, with guidance on how to sell effectively and ethically readily at hand.
It's also a manifestation of our digital age, when so much commerce has shifted from in-store to online. Take Carvana. You can go through the entire process of buying a used car online. The only aspect occurring in the physical world is picking up the car or having it delivered. And that doesn't involve contact with anyone resembling the smarmy used car salesperson of yore.
This doesn't mean the equivalent of the unethical used car salesperson doesn't exist on the web. We're all familiar with the ever-present fraudsters carrying out nefarious schemes. But they are shadowy figures, not brash, in-your-face con artists who are easy to ridicule.
So in this digital age, when merchants have more and more options available for accepting payments and efficiently running their businesses, how can an intrepid rep compete with a growing number of well-funded savvy competitors? What is it that small business owners are looking for in a service provider?
I believe it boils down to authenticity.
In an undated post on authenticity, https://bit.ly/3ywpcFq, Psychology Today stated that authentic individuals strive to align their actions with their core values and beliefs with the hope of discovering, and then acting in sync with, their true selves. The post mentions an authenticity inventory devised by psychologists Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman that contains four key factors:
It's easy to see that acting in accordance with these four factors would benefit any merchant level salesperson's business. Bringing them into all business communications, whether conducted in-person, via email or on social media, takes planning. But the potential gains of doing so outweigh the time it takes to reflect upon them and assure that you are truly authentic in your interactions.
Being authentic calls for different actions in different situations. Sometimes it means letting a merchant know your product suite can't quite meet their needs and pointing them to a service provider who is a better fit rather than selling them on services that will ultimately make them disgruntled.
Sometimes it means realizing a colleague is better suited to a particular assignment than you are and helping that colleague succeed. There is no cookie cutter answer on how to be authentic. And I've only scratched the surface here. But being truly authentic is one superb way to never leave behind a stereotypical bad salesperson impression when you interact with merchants you want to sign for your portfolio.
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