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We all have the same mental image of the “old school” salesman – some fast talker in a suit who will say anything to get your hard earned cash…

Someone more concerned with their bottom line than the needs of the customer in front of them…

But that’s all changed now, and for those salesmen (and women) who haven’t kept up with the times – those old school tactics spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

You see, customers today are more connected than they have ever been…

Through social media, mobile marketing, and a plethora of review sites – any prospective customer can check out the competition, hear about other customers’ experiences with a company, and even ask their friends for recommendations about products…

“When consumers hear about a product today, their first reaction is ‘Let me search online for it.’ And so they go on a journey of discovery: about a product, a service, an issue, an opportunity.  Today, you are not behind your competition. You are not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer.” — Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer VivaK

The job of the salesman
has changed drastically…

It’s not enough to just talk up the product they want to sell. For a salesman to be successful with this “new breed” of educated and well-researched customer, the salesperson must become a trustworthy source of information…

The salesman has to help solve the customer’s problem – and fully understand how to meet the customer’s needs (on the customer’s terms). The old school “hard sell” is finished.

This means taking all of the customer’s concerns into account, and being absolutely straightforward about pricing, the competitor’s alternatives, and what sets your solution apart from the rest.

By being up front with the discerning customer, this “modern salesman” can build a trust-based relationship…

[su_quote]“Only 18% of people expect business leaders to tell the truth – this presents an enormous opportunity for a company to lead with authenticity, transparency, and by becoming a trusted advisor.  Trust will be a primary competitive advantage of the next decade.” – Charles Gaudet[/su_quote]

If price is mentioned before the customer asks, it shows that the salesman has nothing to hide – that he or she is well aware of the competition, knows how their product differs in price, and is prepared to show how their product offers a better solution to the customer’s problem.

The customers have done their research, but are looking at salesperson to be the expert that will confirm their assumptions…

Instead of “selling” a product or service, the sales representative should be focused on fully understanding the customer’s problem, and then working with them to find the best solution – no matter who sells it.

With today’s connected world, the last thing you need is to sell the wrong product to the wrong person.

If your product will not provide a bigger advantage to the consumer, the consumer won’t assume responsibility for a poor product match, but rather will blame the product.

Want to see this in action? Apple gets it.

Several months ago, I gravitated to the most expensive laptop on the shelf, but after talking with an employee about what I needed – she actually guided me to a less-expensive, better-fitting alternative.

She could have made the company an extra buck, but instead he earned my trust (and loyalty) by not selling me more than what I needed.

Now, the old school model has made it a challenge for many of us to trust “the salesman,” but if they are offering honest and expert advice…

Offering the best product or service to solve the customer’s unique problem…

Thoroughly understanding the final result the customer wants to achieve…

And ultimately providing the customer with all of the tools they need to make a confident, informed buying decision (like testimonials, demonstrations, reviews, proof, etc.)…

The dreaded salesman becomes a trusted authority that customers will return to time and time again.

Being pushy just doesn’t cut it anymore.

In your corner,

Charlie

what now?

Continue reading for more resourceful information.