A reluctant salesperson. It sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? We have this image of assertive men and women, boldly going to visit prospects and customers. Asking strong, insightful questions, and listening closely to the answers. But think back on your experiences as a customer. How many times have you stood in a store waiting to be helped, when you can see salespeople gathered and chatting among themselves?
This has happened to me many times, and I always chalked it up to rude or indifferent attitudes of the salespeople. Then I came across some startling research from Dallas-based Behavioral Sciences Research Press:
- The authors examined the customer engagement behavior of 1,160 retail salespeople in the U.S. The researchers investigated how many times the retail salespeople initiated conversation with “walk-in” prospective buyers during one work week. Results? Less than 44% of the salespeople engaged prospective walk-in customers.
- They also recently studied 199,000 salespeople scattered across companies, industries and sales settings, researching salespeople who don’t want to talk to anyone. Results? 19.6% of currently employed salesmen and 16.6% of saleswomen say they are uncomfortable starting conversations with people they don’t know. Remember, these are people in sales.
At least now I can understand, if not accept, the mistreatment I am receiving. There is a real opportunity here for anyone in sales. Engage your prospects and customers in conversation. It sounds easy and obvious, but many of your competitors are not doing it.
So go ahead. Try it. Start up a conversation with a new customer. Speak with passion about what you sell. I think you’ll be pleased and surprised with the results.