It’s no secret that salesperson reputations stink! In poll after poll, survey respondents typically rank salespeople above only members of Congress on trust, honesty and competency. Frankly, that’s some scary bottom-feeding company to keep! Sadly, we have no one to blame but ourselves. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” To understand why salesperson reputations are so bad, let’s look in the mirror and see if we recognize in ourselves any traits of these all-too-familiar personas: Slick Sammy, Shortcut Sherri, Chatterbox Charley, Self-Centered Seth, and Rude Rudy:
Slick Sammy might as well be a politician. He’s a glad-handing, double-talking, circular logic kinda guy. He doesn’t engage with prospects in a real and transparent conversation, but rather in a series of talking points – a litany of features and benefits in search of a problem. He’s evasive and comes across as dishonest. Looking for a straight answer from Slick Sammy? Good luck.
Shortcut Sherri is always looking for the easy way, even if it isn’t the right way. Like Slick Sammy, she constantly reverts to talking points that might or might not be relevant to the prospect. It’s all because she doesn’t do her homework. She doesn’t want to do her homework. Even if a basic level of discovery would better determine if her solution would solve her customer’s needs, Shortcut Sherri can’t be bothered. After all, it’s apparently too much work to be a real problem solver.
Chatterbox Charley shares some bad traits with Slick Sammy and Shortcut Sherri – even if a real solution for the prospect is possible, it gets lost in the endless stream of pointless pitching. Chatterbox Charley is a know-it-all who doesn’t know when to be quiet. It is all about hearing himself speak and not listening to the prospect.Unlike the inherent laziness of Shortcut Sherri, Chatterbox Charley has bundles of energy, but expends it all in relentless meandering prattle. He leaves the prospect exhausted and confused, like a punch-drunk boxer about to go down for the count.
Self-centered Seth doesn’t care about the needs of the prospect. Where Shortcut Sherri is too lazy to care, Seth is too inwardly focused to care. He’s arrogant and pushy and can’t seem to be bothered by questions or objections or concerns. All that seems to matter to Seth is that he makes the sale as quickly as possible so he can still make his tee time. It’s all about him!
Rude Rudy may be the worst of all. A virtual amalgam of the worst traits of the others, he makes it even worse by being overly aggressive, badgering, and (perhaps unwittingly) bullying. Sure, he makes some sales, but it is only because he won’t take no for an answer. He could care less if the solution is appropriate. He is such a loose cannon that the prospect is afraid to say no. You agree to a deal with Rude Rudy to get him off your back. It’s more like a payoff.
While these personas might seem extreme, chances are you know salespeople who fit these ugly molds. There are, of course, some common threads here: me-first attitudes, an unwillingness to listen, a lack of true empathy or desire to be a problem solver.
More often than not, the result is that the prospect feels overwhelmed, undervalued, disrespected, dazed and confused. And salesperson reputations take the hit, again and again. An article in The Atlantic noted that, “In particular, we don’t trust people trying to sell us something because we know that their objective isn’t to provide a service, but to make a sale.” Ouch! (The truth hurts.) This observation goes hand-in-hand with Jeffrey Gitomer’s philosophy that people like to buy, but don’t like to be sold.
The Bottom Line:
Everything a salesperson does either perpetuates negative stereotypes and bad salesperson reputations or counteracts them. Ultimately, the only real way to repair the sales industry is to be the opposite of Slick Sammy, Shortcut Sherri, Chatterbox Charley, Self-Centered Seth and Rude Rudy. In other words, don’t be “slick” or take shortcuts or command the conversation; don’t be self-centered; don’t be rude or overbearing. Instead, listen, learn, and be genuine and personable. Seek to solve a legitimate problem with a true solution, and if you can’t, walk away or help them find someone that can. Above all, always work to create value for the customer.
I’ve experienced these bad salesperson personas firsthand from a career in sales management. I understand the damage these undesirables do to the organizations they represent, and can help you prevent this from happening to your organization. To learn more contact me and let me help you get on the right path towards growth.