This post first appeared on the Reaching New Heights website as I robot!
Unless you’re an undertaker or a florist, I am pretty sure the words, “We have just had a death”, are NOT an invitation for a sales pitch!
And yet that is exactly what happened to me a while ago whilst simply trying to pay my credit card bill in a high street bank.
At the time I was gob-smacked and thought the young woman outrageous, which just resulted in the 2 of us getting upset. But later I realised what had happened; the cashier had been reading her prompt questions, as instructed , and clearly there was no response to we have just had a death , so after a moment’s hesitation she just carried on with the sales pitch!
Losing our humanity
Whilst she could have used her common sense, it was not this poor girls fault; she was just reading from the questions given to her by the sales management. With the pressure on to hit targets and make a sale she lost her humanity. You have probably had a similar experience with tele-sales calls?
I know these lists are useful and I know many companies that use them, but they are just meant to be reminders and prompts, not an unwavering script to be completed at any cost. Who ever had trained her had forgotten to train her to listen and thus had given her no room for responding as one human to another to build rapport, it was just hard sell, which to be honest most of us hate.
Robots on the front desk
So if, as it seems, her humanity has been trained out of her (and I presume she is not a one off), we are left with robot like sales staff.
Now we all know very well that people buy from people they know like and trust, and so it would seem that there is something deeply fundamental getting lost in this training process. In this new business era of transparency and accountability, the need for good customer engagement is crucial. And in this industry in particular, with more people using online banking etc, the need for good face to face engagement, when that opportunity arises, is even more important. So why do I usually end up feeling mobbed when I go to the bank or post office now? – harangued by desperate sales staff who insist that I need a new credit card/ phone provider and won’t take no for an answer, when all I want is a passport form/ to pay a bill!
Your company’s front line staff are the face of your business and need the most, not the least, training in sales and people skills. Today pushy and aggressive sales techniques are not acceptable. Sales skills in this age should be about building relationships, understanding your customers, and selling them the right thing for them. If you build relationships and market your products well, people will remember you when the time is right for them.
So, for sure, ask, and certainly let people know what else you offer, but don’t forget that we are intelligent beings please.
If your sales style is aggressive, we will most likely just give you a wide berth. So, unless your strategy includes excellent sales training, you will lose more customers than you gain. I know that it will be a long time before I set foot in that particular branch again.
What is your experience?
I would like to hear your experiences of sales training, as a sales professional, or as a customer on the receiving end of their training.
Jane Binnion delivers ethical sales training as the Naked Sales Trainer.