This fact makes my life extremely complicated.  We have been married for 46 wonderful, incredibly happy, years.  

During four of those years, I was a college and graduate student and for forty-two years, I have been a salesperson.  When I act like a salesperson, I’m sure Peggy suffers moments of regret.  When asked why she dislikes salespeople, she says, “They are pushy and always trying to sell me something!”  Risking bringing emotions to the surface, I asked her what she means by that statement.  She continued, “They try to make me buy something I don’t want!” I know her comments are true because I recognize those same feelings when I try to persuade her to do something she doesn’t want to go hiking.  I also remember, years ago, hearing her say, very calmly, to a salesperson “What don’t you understand about no.”

When you really take the time to think about it, my wife isn’t different from any other person in the world in that one respect.  She doesn’t want to be sold.  She loves to buy, and she truly respects people who help her discover what is best for her.  However, she doesn’t want people telling her what to do if they don’t know what she needs or wants.  Salespeople can learn a great lesson from Peggy’s experience.  First, build a relationship with the prospective buyer by letting them know you care enough about them to understand their needs and wants.  Second, after learning their needs and wants, help them discover a specific solution.  Third, once they have discovered the solution they are looking for, give them the opportunity to buy it without feeling the pressure of being sold.

When Peggy and I go shopping, it is truly an adventure.  Throughout the process, she is critiquing the salespeople, and I am taking mental notes of her interaction with them.  She pulls back and usually will leave the store when the salesperson pressures her.  Yet, when she feels no pressure from the associate, she will open up and the process begins!  When they do their job properly, she will tell me the salesperson was very good.  When they try to sell her, she will say she really didn’t like them.  Peggy has made a mental and verbal distinction between good and bad salespeople and even calls them by different names.  Being referred to as an associate, is good, and being called a salesperson, is bad.  We all have different names for the good and the bad of any profession, and Peggy has certainly found her names for the sales profession.  

Here are five thoughts and suggestions that, when followed, will earn the respect of those who buy, and will generate the income only the best, in the profession of selling, will ever realize.

  1. People buy from people they believe, like and trust.
  2. People don’t want to be sold; they want to buy.
  3. Discover the other person’s needs, wants and desires.
  4. Do everything within your power to satisfy the buyer’s objectives.
  5. Give people the opportunity to buy without feeling the pressure of being sold.

Achieving these five objectives will cause my wife, along with millions of others, just like her, to change their attitudes towards salespeople and change what has become for many, a negative stereotype.  The world needs more people who love salespeople!