What Buyers Want from Sales Reps

What Buyers Want from Sales Reps

Never approach a customer unprepared. According to a survey by Purchasing magazine, lack of preparation is the number one dislike buyers have about sellers, with a lack of interest or purpose following close behind. "Hello, your account has just been assigned to me," is blatant behavioral evidence that the salesperson is going through the motions.

A better opening would be, "In preparing for this meeting I..." Then tell the customer exactly what you did to prepare. To be welcomed into a buyer's office, you must have a valid business reason for being there and be able to quickly articulate that reason.

Larry Wilson and Spencer Johnson describe the "Purpose, Process, Payoff" speech in their book, The One Minute Sales Person. The purpose, process and payoff speech can answer four of the prospect's unasked questions in the first two minutes of your meeting:

  • Why are you here? (Purpose)
  • What's going to happen in the meeting? (Process)
  • What's in it for me (the buyer)? (Payoff)
  • How long is this going to take?

 Here is how a purpose, process and payoff opening might go:

John, the purpose of this meeting is to exchange some information about sales training. Here's how I see our meeting going. I'll present a 12-minute video that frames some key training issues. Then I'll ask five specific questions about your sales team. At the end of this meeting (which will take no more than 40 minutes, especially if we can limit the interruptions), you'll be a more informed consumer of training programs and training products. And at the same time, I'll know if you want to take the next step in our process, which would be the proposal phase. Fair enough?

Your customers buy the way you sell before they buy what you sell. Selling them on the way you're going to work together is a step you should not skip. So many salespeople do skip this small but critical step that you have an unfair advantage if you include it in every meeting.

To show you're prepared, you can send your bullet-point purpose, process and payoff agenda two days before the meeting to confirm the meeting and market it as well.

Being more prepared will help you seem more interested and purposeful. It's important that you give off three vibes when you are with a customer:

  • I'm glad to be here.
  • I know what I'm talking about.
  • I love what I'm doing.

You can't fake it. Vibes are non-verbal manifestations of what's going on inside of you. Your smile, posture, tone of voice and the depth of your conviction will let the customer see that you are different than all the salespeople who meet with the customer.

In my book, The Accidental Salesperson, How to Take Control of Your Sales Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve, I offer this axiom: Your clients get better when you get better.

The corollary to that is: Your clients are rooting for you to get better.

Your customers want to have engaging meetings and work with the best salespeople and companies in the business.

Think about salespeople you respect. What do they do differently than salespeople you don't respect? Chances are they are into what they do. And when you are with them, you feel like an important customer. They focus on you and not their next meeting. They listen and respond appropriately. As a buyer yourself, you don't throw up as many stalls and objections. You may even be willing to pay a little more because you enjoy buying from them.

Be prepared. And approach your customer with a sense of interest and purpose. Aligning your behavior with the behaviors that customers value is the fastest way to earn respect and credibility. Orders that come from respect and credibility are more profitable than orders that come from price-cutting.

Take this idea into the field this week. Build a purpose-process-payoff speech for each meeting you have scheduled. It can be very simple, one or two bullet points under each heading. You will find that your customers will treat you differently and better. After all, you're treating them the way they want to be treated.

Learn more about sales careers.