Most of us like an occasional pat on the back. If we score the winning point in basketball, get a business promotion or are elected to office–we want to be recognized for our accomplishment. It’s only natural.
If you are named your companies leading salesperson aren’t you pleased when your colleagues come up and congratulate you? Don’t you bask in the admiring glances of your spouse, parent, close friend or children? After all, what good is achievement if there is nobody around to recognize it?
But has it ever occurred to you that others might like the same kind of treatment. Have you ever thought of being on the giving end of praise instead of the receiving?
There are many opportunities for a salesperson to bestow praise. From the time they leave their home in the morning until they arrive back at night there are countless times when they can make somebody’s day better by complementing them. If the clerk at a store does a good job serving you, why not tell them so? Next time they may do an even better one. If a receptionist gives you a cordial welcome tell them how much you appreciate their interest. This may get you into the buyer’s office that much quicker. If someone in sales support gives you a great idea, give them a word of praise. They will like the feeling of being of value. This will pay real dividends for you.
PRAISING THE PROSPECT AND THE CUSTOMER
Many salespeople pass up excellent opportunities to praise their prospects and customers. I’m talking about justified praise, not empty fawning. Let’s begin with a buyer’s appearance. Perhaps they’re wearing an especially rich looking suit. Or maybe they have lost weight since you last saw them and now look trim and fit.
There are other areas for compliments. Has the buyer’s firm come out with a dramatic new product or has it cracked a sales record? The offices may have been remodeled, giving the place a completely new look. The buyer themselves may have received a promotion. All these things should be noticed by the salesperson. They are sure to be in the mind of the buyer and they may resent it if they are not mentioned. On the other hand, a brief compliment from a salesperson can influence their success in getting an order. Buyers don’t want to be regarded as mere money machines. They too want to be thought of as individuals
Some people find it hard to praise others because they are too busy looking at their faults. None of us is perfect and faults are rarely hard to find. If we are honest we are aware of our own and we can find flaws even in people we admire and respect.
But how about overlooking faults and searching for qualities in a person that calls for praise? So what if a person doesn’t always use the King’s English? Are they honest and fair in their dealings? Do they keep their word? Are they pleasant to be with?
These are elements that are more important than whether they end a sentence with a preposition or use a double negative. Some salespeople are impatient with a buyer for taking along time to make up their mind on an order. The fact that the person is conscientiously doing their duty never occurs to them. They see delay as a fault. A better attitude would be to say to the prospect:
“I’m anxious to get the order but I now you are doing what you think is right. I admire you for it.” It never hurts to try and understand the buyer’s motives. Perhaps then they’ll try and understand yours. If you strip away a fault you will usually find a virtue.
THE REAL THING
If you “praise someone be sure it’s sincere, genuine praise. Don’t issue a compliment as if it were a second thought. Put some conviction into it. Nothing is more apparent than a phony or insincere piece of praise. Make the individual aware of the fact that you have given some thought to your flattering words. If a friend or customer has been promoted, don’t dismiss it with a mere “Congratulations.” This is perfunctory; they’ll probably hear it a dozen times a day. Say something like this:
“I’m really happy for you. You deserve everything you’re getting. You’ve done a wonderful job.”
Salespeople can derive immense personal satisfaction from helping others to realize their potential, to climb to the heights. Perhaps you can help a fellow salesperson in your firm. Or maybe you can offer sound advice to a prospect or customer, enabling them to increase their profits.
What’s in this for you? Quite a bit! For one thing you can elevate your status in your firm or industry. It is helpful to have a reputation for assisting others. Second, such effort on your part will, like the proverbial chickens, come home to roost. Suppose you offer a moneymaking idea to a customer. Don’t you think that they’ll remember you favorably? They certainly would not want to lose a supplier who is also a mentor.
Even if no material benefits come from your aid, the action will be its own reward. To do something for others will cause you to think better of yourself. This will lead to better morale, thus making you a more enthusiastic salesperson. A person at peace with himself or herself can always to a more productive job.
The salesperson who praises others is performing a first rate public relations function. They are creating a favorable impression of themselves and their firm. Public relations are important in selling. When there is little to choose between competing products, the buyer will likely pick the one with the most pleasing salesperson. Did you leave a strong impression in the buyer’s mind? That’s what often counts in who gets the order.
MAKE A PRAISE LIST
Praising others should not be a casual or spur-of-the-moment thing. Why not make up a list of your customers, business associates, etc. who deserve an accolade. Write down their achievements, fine qualities, etc. And then memorize the list. Be ready when you meet those persons to call attention to their triumphs. What you don’t find out personally about them you can pick up from the newspapers, mutual friends and other sources. When you read about the promotion of a prospect or customer, clip it and file it for future use.
REMEMBER YOUR OWN TEAM
When you are handing out praise don’t forget the people on your own team. These are the ones who back you up—the sales administration, the operations or delivery team, the production workers, the advertising department, shipping, research, etc. Remember, they make it easier for you to sell
You will be creating friends for a time when you might really need them. Suppose you had to get fast action on an order or lose it. The customer wants it right away. Wouldn’t it help to be on good terms with the shipping department and everyone else that could speed the deal along? Of course it would. Most top producers have congenial relations with other departments in the company. They know that modern day business requires the cooperation of many people. One company, we work with has periodic meetings of different departments so their personnel and staff people can meet each other. You might make this suggestion in your outfit.
Some salespeople look for praise from their superiors and others without having done much to earn it. There’s an old saying that you can’t kid yourself. How hollow is it to hear a compliment that you haven’t merited. Flattery without substance will not sustain you for long. A salesperson needs inner satisfaction of knowing that they have done well. Then they can sit back and accept the praise due them. Success involves putting forth that extra effort to win.
So must the salesperson exert themselves beyond normal effort if they want to hit the top-earning bracket? If you make one or two calls and don’t get an order, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ve done your best. But have you? Perhaps you didn’t work as hard as you should have in the prospect’s office. Maybe you were just making a “courtesy call.” Or perhaps you should make three or four more calls. If the business is big enough it’s worth the extra time. How about you’re regular customers? Are you getting the amount of business from them that they are capable of giving you? Are you exploiting your territory the way it should be?
Praise and honor will fall on you when you’ve earned them. And when you receive praise, be modest. It will stand you well. Seneca, the Roman philosopher, said, “You can tell the character of every man when you see how he receives praise.”
How well do you receive praise?
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