The Green Sheet Online Edition
November 28, 2016 • Issue 16:11:02
Sales as a healing profession
There's a certain stigma about us sales professionals: we, collectively, have a bad reputation for high pressure sales tactics, lying, and unethical practices that prioritize our sales numbers, quotas and commissions, while neglecting to address our clients' needs, care and cures.
This has created a ton of backlash with more and more prospective clients banning access to salespeople across the board. It has also led to increasing regulations based on complaints from prospects who have been harmed in some fashion by bad practices.
Bad role models
To make this worse, too many sales professionals idolize characters from finance-related feature films who promulgate the same level of high-pressure and unethical sales practices. They even repeat some of the quotes and mantras from the famous characters. For example:
- "F*** the clients. Your only responsibility is to put meat on the table." ‒ Mark Hanna, The Wolf of Wall Street
- "[T[he name of the game, moving the money from the client's pocket to your pocket." ‒ Mark Hanna, The Wolf of Wall Street
- My warriors, who won't take 'No' for an answer. Who won't hang up the phone till their client buys. Or f***ing dies!" ‒ Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street
- "Because only one thing counts in this life! Get them to sign on the line which is dotted!" ‒ Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross
- "A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing." ‒ Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross
Could there be a better way to achieve sales quotas and make great commissions? Can we thrive as MLSs without employing high-pressure sales tactics, unethical practices and other ineffective means of building client trust? Do we have better role models out there?
Enter The Doctor
As sales professionals, we have to pick new role models. We have to leave behind some of the characters from such movies as Wall Street (1987), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Boiler Room (2000), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and other similar films, and adapt a new hero to model our behavior after. My recommendation for our new hero is The Doctor. Consider the following:
- It was the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates who wrote in the Hippocratic Oath, "I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous." And in Of the Epidemics, he wrote similarly that the physician must be able "to do good or to do no harm."
- It was former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (in office from 2010 to 2014) who said, "All doctors have an ethical duty to follow the practices and standards of care."
Ideally, doctors are not trying to pressure a patient into tests, prescriptions or visits that are neither needed nor warranted just because a new quota of some kind was created. Doctors are simply trying to stop either a present-day pain, or to prevent a disease from growing, spreading and creating future pain. Both of these objectives are based solely on the needs of the client.
Model yourself after The Doctor
When I visit my doctor for an illness, I'm usually given documentation that includes the following:
- Reason for visit: This explains why I was there, such as: the patient reported having issues related to stomach pains and vomiting.
- Diagnosis: This explains what the physician believes my problem was, such as having viral gastroenteritis (the stomach flu).
- Remedies and prescriptions: This explains what the doctor prescribed to stop the symptoms and eventually stop the related pain. In this case, it might be for me to restrict my diet to the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) regimen; stay hydrated; and get a lot of rest.
- Time frame: This would be an estimated date when I should most likely begin to feel better, and if I don't feel better by this particular time, scheduling a follow-up visit is recommended.
As a sales professional, emulate The Doctor. Here's one possible scenario:
- Reason for the visit: When you pop into a merchant's location or telephone the individual, ask yourself, what was the purpose for the visit today? The purpose should only be because the merchant is in a situation that your suite of knowledge, technologies, capital, connections, networks and other resources can help resolve.
You might have found out about the merchant's situation through a referral, because the merchant responded to one of your ads, because the merchant called you randomly, or because of various forms of research you have done on that merchant in particular. It should not be a contrived situation forced upon you by your sales manager based solely on a quota that needs to be hit. It should be totally based on the present situation of the merchant.
- Diagnosis: After explaining the reason for the visit, a consultation should begin with a series of questions to understand the patient (that is, the merchant) and understand the individual's business as a whole, as well as the present situation in front of the merchant and the unique goals for treatment.
- Remedies and prescriptions: This is when you would go into your wealth of knowledge, technologies, capital, connections, networks and other resources to tailor a solution for the merchant that resolves his or her present day situation. Make sure you prescribe what I refer to as the "whole solution," which is one of efficiency in quality and support, as well as fair pricing. From there, you would work with the client on implementation issues such as ascertaining when the merchant is looking to get started and scheduling accordingly, paperwork needed, facilitating documentation, and other steps of the process.
- Time frame: This sets forth expectations regarding when the situation should be resolved by your solution and the follow-up procedures to employ afterward. For the merchant cash advance, for example, follow-up should involve some level of renewal management going forward as well as assistance with any collection issues.
The real money in sales is made in the ongoing relationship with the client, a relationship that spans two, three, five and maybe even 10 or more years. You will make more money and have more career longevity if you follow The Doctor's approach, rather than that of the high pressure sales characters from the major Hollywood classics cited in this article.
Be sure to tune in to the next edition of Street SmartsSM here in The Green Sheet, where I will continue the discussion of rebranding the MLS, a topic that has been central to my focus as this column's author.
John Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in accounting, business management and journalism. Tucker also has over nine years of professional experience in commercial finance and business development. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 586-480-2140.
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