Recently I was asked by a client – “What are typical customer frustrations with sales people?”
That question created a discovery and research process which uncovered several major issues for customers – caused by the sales people who call upon them. This was amazing to me. It seems sales people have the uncanny ability to shot themselves in the foot – then admire their marksmanship rather than not shot at all!
Yes, we – the sales people create major frustration for our customers – consciously or unconsciously – which makes building trust and successful selling more difficult. Here are the major customer frustrations created by sales people.
Top Five Customer Frustrations…
Difficulty in Communication
Yes, sales people do not always understand the value of Effective Communication. Seems we spend a lot of time communicating, yet, forgetting things like effectiveness and understanding. It continues to amaze me how many sales people still do not understand the power of behavior style in communication. Flexibility is the name of game for effective communication – so learn how it works – it is simple and allows you to control the flow of communication so the customer understands you.
There are additional issues in the communication section such as mind reading, assuming intent of actions, giving vague answers to real questions, and most importantly – failing to truly listen to what a customer is saying when they are talking. Geez! We need to get this stuff straight.
Salesperson’s Lack of Knowledge of Customer’s Company
With the internet availability as well as the cell phone, there is no excuse to have a lack of knowledge about the customer’s business. The dumbest question is “What is it you do here?” Yet, hundreds of sales people ask this question to a decision maker every day. No wonder it made it to the number two spot.
Rule of Thumb for sales people – never go into a company without first doing your research on the company. How long have they been in business, what do they build and sale, who are their competitors, how many branches, plants, warehouses, etc do they have, where is there headquarters located, who owns the company? All these questions should be answered before even thinking about visiting a buyer.
This is more of an issue today due to the likelihood of a passive corporate buyer – who does not want to be pushed into buying or worst – to be sold something they don’t want or need. This is also a behavioral style issue for sales people. Seems we have a large number of aggressive, direct and competitive people in sales while the buyers are indirect, passive and team oriented. This combination creates some friction and bad feelings on both sides – again due to misunderstandings.
The key to successful selling today is to slow down, ask more questions, listen to the answers and ask more questions for clarity and understanding. When sales people take the time to learn, they build more rapport and trust, thus accelerating the probability of success. Interesting progression.
Slow or Late Delivery
Now sometimes this is related to other groups within the sales person’s company, yet, most of the time it is created by the sales person winging it during the sales presentation or doing all the talking while payng little attention to the true demands of the customer. Every customer tells me the same thing – timely delivery is critical to a smooth operating environment. And that is the key. Most buyers are looking for a smooth and quiet working environment. In other words, they do not want any problems in their areas of responsibility. Slow or Late delivery’s cause huge stress for these buyers – particularly corporate types who value their security.
Salesperson’s Over-Promising and Under Delivering
Here we have a definite case of sales people winging it during a sales meeting. The sales person is not following a plan, nor are they consulting with their operations group. They are making promises based upon their beliefs “I – We can make this happen if we work hard enough!” Most of the time, the promise is built upon pure speculation and no concept of actually how long it takes to make and deliver some item or combination of items. Over Promise due to winging it and too much optimism will get the sales person in trouble with their buyers every time.
It is time to follow the plan of action, or consult with operations prior to agreeing to some speedy schedule or time line. Check your assumptions and most importantly check with others to make sure you can deliver by the deadline. Remember, it is your credibility that is on the line – which in the old days was something about “your word is your bond.” You must protect your word as it relates to your character and integrity.
There you have the Top 5 Customer Frustrations. Learn them so you do not violate them during your selling activities. Stay the course and make your customer your ally who can trust your word.