The Three Secrets of Successful Salespeople

A recent post over on the HBR blogs on the persuasion tactics of effective salespeople did us all a favour by highlight the three fundamental principles, drawn from socio-, psycho-, and neuro-linguistics, that persuasive salespeople use to break down our procurement barriers. By understanding these “heavy hitters”, we can keep our guard up and be more objective in our procurement processes.

  1. They speak in our language.
    Successful salespeople understand that each customer (organization) has a unique language and they take the time to learn that language. This helps them “fit in” and leads us to believe that they must have a better solution, even if all they have is a better means to communicate with us.
  2. They talk about our problems, goals, objectives, and values.
    Whereas most salespeople will spend as much time as you will allow them talking about how great their company is, how great their product is, and how great their service is, successful salespeople talk about how important your problem is, what the best way to solve it is, and the value you will get from the right solution (which, by the way, just happens to be theirs).
  3. They converse with you as if you are a friend
    and not a sucker they are going to take for as much as they can get (even if that is their ultimate goal). They spend time forging a personal connection with you so that you will want to do business with them, regardless of how good their product or service is (which you will already believe in after all of the talk about your problems, goals, objective, and values).

So next time you start feeling too comfortable with a salesperson, step back and objectively judge the situation. What hard data did the salesperson give you? How does it compare with the competition? What level of service will you really get? And should you maybe be conducting (part of) this event through an e-Sourcing platform so you can focus on the relative value of the offerings to insure that you are only spending time in negotiations with providers who can truly solve your problem at a reasonable price point. And while a good relationship with the supplier will often be important to your success, a good relationship alone is not enough if the supplier doesn’t have the products or services you need.