Tim Huffaker 2017There is no greater stereotype for a salesperson than that of the “used car” salesperson.

I mean no offense to people who sell used cars, but truth be known, many of them have created a negative image with the accompanying label.  These expressions and feelings are close to home. My wife has stated on several occasions that she dislikes salespeople. I’ve challenged her on that comment and reminded her a career in selling is what puts food on our table.  “I know, I know, but I still don’t like salespeople,” she says. To all the salespeople within the sound of my voice, we must stand united and work to dispel the negative feelings held towards our profession.

In a candid conversation with my wife, she revealed her feelings about the profession; she held nothing back.  First of all, she sincerely believes most salespeople are dishonest. Her feelings about this were quite strong.  She shared several instances where she felt coerced and pressured to buy something she didn’t want or need. She also gave me a few examples of downright lies she was told to persuade her to make a purchase so they could earn a commission.  So let’s see, dishonest, pushy, lying and greedy. I think what she means with the commission statement is that the focus is more on the salesperson making money than on solving her problem or meeting her needs. Wow, all that from a woman who has been married to a career salesperson for forty seven years!  However, my wife did say she’s grateful the principles I follow, and teach salespeople, are based on honesty and solving the customer’s need.

Here are a few thoughts that might help every salesperson in their battle to overcome the stereotypes and negative emotions shared by not only my wife, but also other buyers and consumers.  First of all, before you get all wrapped up in your selling mode, do two things. First, spend just a few moments building rapport with the prospect in order to dispel their negative perception.  It is human nature to embrace those who help us and to resist those who would take advantage of us. Second, convey a genuine attitude of caring about the prospect. When they sense that you truly care about them, prospects will embrace your concern.  

The next thing salespeople can do to change the stereotypical perception of salespeople is to ask those questions that will reveal the true nature of their problems or needs.  Don’t just accept what they initially say they need. Probe more deeply to discover the depth and breadth or full scope of the situation. When you ask the probing and piercing questions to get to the heart of the prospect’s need, you will gain their trust and respect.  They will believe you are involved with them for all the right reasons. When you put the customer’s needs ahead of your own, you will realize, possibly for the first time in your sales career, the true satisfaction that comes from selling. At the same time, you will be doing your part to dispel the negative stereotypes perceived by many of the buying public.