The “Sales” process

Jun 20, 2024

The title; “Salesman” can have some oblique negative connotations. We all think of that aggressive, pushy, phony, person that puts us on edge. But what would we do without salespeople, and how frustrated can it be when we need one and can’t find one?? It’s a bit of a love-hate relationship, but when you find a really great salesperson, you are genuinely grateful for their help and the expert information they offer. It’s my opinion, that a great salesperson is someone that listens to your needs long enough, patiently asks enough questions about your likes and dislikes long enough, and uses their unique knowledge and expertise in their specific field to find a solution that fulfills your needs.

I’ve made a lifelong hobby of noticing and creating categories of all the different types of ‘salespeople’, and would like to share my observations. Please don’t take me too seriously here – this is mostly a tongue-in-cheek characterization of those particularly unique individuals of which I’ve been honored to observe, that stood out in their field of expertise.

Here’s just a couple to get started – many more to come! (Their names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

Mark – “The Talker”

Mark likes to talk. He’s the nicest, most informative person you could imagine. The only thing that supersedes his broad range of knowledge is his relentless persistent ability to tell you everything he knows – no matter the time allotted. When in Mark’s presence, don’t worry about speaking, don’t worry about sharing your wants and needs. Just sit back and listen. You’ll feel much better about the next hour of your life if you do.

Mark has a perpetually polite smile and his cadence never changes. He has things he needs to say and nothing is going to stop his rhythm. There will be no emphasis, no pauses, no questioning or inflection in his voice that would remotely suggest any acknowledgement on your part. Just an abnormally high toned repetitive voice that shares information of all types, seemingly with no notice of it’s content. Life, death, sickness, disease… or your particular project – they all carry the same tone.

When meeting Mark, be prepared to share your project precisely. Make notes before your appointment. Rehearse with a stopwatch. Practice stating your wants and needs in a concise repertoire that shares your situation in 30 seconds or less – because this may be your only opportunity to do so.

Mark will spend as much time as necessary on anything that is put before him. He is incapable of hearing objections, so he will work on your project as long as you remain engaged. It makes no difference whether you are an actual buyer. He didn’t notice when you snuck in hints about price, budget or specific needs and requirements, so if you’re patient, you can steer him – ultimately – into the end product you desire. He will meet with you morning, noon or night, weekends or holidays. He is not selfish, he is delf-less. He works many hours. He is relentless in his efforts to do whatever is necessary to successfully complete the task before him. He believes that persistence and effort are the earmarks to success. He cannot take his eye off the prize – but the prize is whomever or whatever happens to be standing before him.

Mark is the epiphany of effort. He is the poster child for those who state, “I work 100 hours per week” and the opposite of those who state, “I work smart… not hard”. Of those 100 hours – which is a true statement – one has to wonder how many hours were spent sharing his plethora of knowledge with the UPS driver.

Upon reflection, you might realize that although he was a nice enough guy, with plenty of knowledge, you don’t really have much of a path forward. You don’t really know if he’s that interested. You don’t really feel any passion for the process, and you may simply get wore out and lose interest entirely.

Jacob – “The Selfish Salesman”

A devout Christian, a dedicated husband and father. He states these facts at the earliest opportunity with a great deal of pride. (Almost as if there was an orchestra somewhere behind him waiting their que to belt out an epic score.)

He’s a tall guy and a little heavy, but carries it well. He always has a smile, that doubles as a grimace, that doubles as a condescending smirk. He wears his giant phone on a belt clip sideways because it functions better that way. He doesn’t care how it looks, it functions better.

He has a sales presence that supersedes all else. I have no idea what possible career Jacob could have pursued, other than “salesman”.

As he strolls through your home, he says things casually that are poignant and direct and borderline obtrusive. But you, as the customer, are unaware. Feeling only the slightest twinge of intrusion into areas you might hold beneath the surface and find yourself answering questions and offering information – unwittingly handing your pistol to the intruder. He gives information and takes information with whimsical fluidity before you even realize you’re playing chess… and he has been moving players all over the board. It’s almost like he’s weightless – this large man – as he moves around your home. He could float right out the door, but you’re reluctant to let go of the string. He has somehow created an internal, undefined dependence. He inexplicably has something you need. Information? Expertise? Price? Something! He’s moving towards a destination, but you don’t know where he’s heading, but you reluctantly go along for the ride.

Jacob is one of those rare salesmen that acts through unconscious competence. He’s not trying to say all the right things or ask all the right questions, he’s just doing it. With little or no self-reflection.

Ultimately, Jacob is lazy. Everything he does during his sales process is following the path of least resistance. But it makes no difference to him whether he’s with you for 5 minutes or 5 hours. One thing is definite; it won’t be 30 seconds longer than it needs to be. That’s why he’s the best at what he does. He will not over-speak, over-explain, over-analyze. He’s meticulously using his energy. Every move is the easy route. Every thought is directed toward the finish line. If he senses a “yes” he goes to it. If he senses a “no” he reluctantly but efficiently takes another lap around the track.

Another expert trait that plays directly into Jacob’s sales success is his selfishness. He’s selfish with his time, selfish with his words and selfish with his gas. He may call and ask a few carefully phrased – but selfish – questions and not even come to your home.

His selfish, aloof, superior, laziness makes Jacob a strong, lifelong, thick-skinned, hard-core, reliable sales producer that any company would be happy to have on their team. Year after year he sells one out of every four clients he visits and that is pretty incredible.

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