If I may add, look pass the gender because if I'm asking you a question about your product it means there may be a potential sale involved. And, most likely, I know what I'm talking about and need answers. So don't turn and talk to my male associate standing next to me as if he is the one that asked the question.
Top 5 Improvements For Manufacturer Sales People
Manufacturer sales people are very important to integrators, but it takes more than just punching a clock to be successful and truly valuable to partners. 150+ integrators told IPVM the most important improvements sales people can make. Here they are:
Inside this report, we analyze these themes, sharing detailed commentary from integrators.
wow, thats annoying! Sounds like an arrogant salesman. You should call them out right then and there and say exactly that. "Hey I was the one asking the question, if it alright if you answer me instead?"
I am hoping this guy was around 80 years old? Can't imagine someone younger than that doing something like that, but seems like a ton of things happen on a daily basis that I can't even imagine......
Nope, not age related at all that I recall. It's happened more than once. However recently at the ASIS NYC conference, it didn't happen at all! I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, not an exhibit arena like ISC West or anything, tiny compared to that.
I've known plenty of salesmen to do this. It seems pretty prevalent in technical sales, inside our industry and out, for whatever reason.
When I became a sales manager, I had to train my team out of this habit. Increased our sales almost 10%. It wasn't easy, none of them even realized they were doing it. I had to literally coach one guy for an entire day because he kept denying it even as I was watching him do it. Finally, I got him to give a demo and record it, and then I replayed the demo at high speed so we could watch his body language together.
Well crap, now I wonder if I do it! I am going to have to ask around.....
watch his body language together
What was his body language specifically? What were the cues / specific movements?
When speaking to two customers, a salesperson tends to turn their head and upper body to face first one customer, then the other, especially if their sales style incorporates expressive body language or hand gestures. Even extremely reserved salespeople will turn their heads to face first one and then the other customer, slowly panning back and forth.
Unless one customer is a female and the other is a male. Then, you'll see the salesperson facing the male customer, occasionally glancing at the female customer to see if she's still listening. If the female asks a question, the salesperson will turn towards her for as long as she's speaking, then turn back to the male customer and address the answer to him.
It's the same pattern as when speaking to two male customers, one of whom is obviously higher status. If a CEO and his intern comes for a visit, salespeople will address the CEO and ignore the intern.
That's what UD1 probably meant by "don't turn and talk to my male associate standing next to me as if he is the one that asked the question."
Most people aren't aware of their body language at all. Having cameras in our showroom really helped us analyze body language, and allowed our salespeople to correlate different body language approaches with higher or lower average sales for the day or week.
That is FANTASTIC use of our own technology. Kudos.
Thank you for your sharing. I currently make conscious efforts not do this, but will try to be more mindful of my actions both with gender and status as I am likely not as proficient as I should be. Your comment also reminded me of working at Radio Shack back in college (early 90's, yes, I'm getting old) when both men AND women would address technical questions to me as a male instead of my manager who was female still in her 20s. We had fun with this by me pretending not to know the answer and deferring to my manager. It often took 2 or 3 questions before my manager would be addressed directly.
An interesting topic to be certain and one that hits close to home for me. Speaking from the experience of having been a sales person for both an Integrator and Manufacturer I would agree that the vast majority of comments offered are valid and, for most professional manufacturer sales people; second nature.
Ultimately it comes down to relationship building and trust between the Integrator and Manufacturer's sales organizations. I would encourage those that read this article to remember that successful selling is a Team effort and certainly a two way street. For every desirable attribute or behavior highlighted in this article related to a Manufacturer's sales staff, it would be ideal if the Integrator sales staff were held to the same standards.
I also believe that possessing these favorable attributes comes down to an individual's work habits/ethic and personality. You can teach anyone how to do something correctly, whether they choose to take and apply the lesson is another thing entirely.
I try to live by the following simple rules; be available, be attentive, be responsive, be prompt, be thorough, be clear, be decisive, be correct, be on time (better be early!), be thankful, be honest and for the love of humanity please spell check. I don't wake up humming this as a mantra and I don't keep a check list on my desk, I have just learned that it is easier and significantly more rewarding when I can look back at any professional interaction or project and tick all of those boxes. Everything flows more smoothly and fewer things go sideways as a result.
An old sales guy once told me, "People hate being sold, but love to buy".
To often, I believe, sales reps at all levels, attempt to be relationship focus. But when you get down to it, the term "relationship" is defined differently by different people. For some, it means buying drinks or rounds of golf, for others it means an overly excited personality and friendly demeanor.
Relationship is a deep word, it goes beyond lunch n learns and dinners and beer. It moves past the pleasantries and the (annoyingly) polite questions about ones family (that you already forgot). Relationship assumes that you will help me be successful in what I am doing, in turn I will help you be successful.
Another old sales boss once said, "relationships are two way streets".
All sales professional, in this industry, need to stop trying to sell and start partnering with their customers, be it an end-user, distributor or integrator. The success of my customer must be central to my strategy. If they are successful, than I will be as well. Customers can see and know when a sales person is only focused on their quota or commission checks. This becomes a major turn-off for most customers... because they are simply being used to benefit the sales person.
Does not matter if your a RSM, Account Manager, Inside Sales, Manufactures Rep... learn your customer's business, the verticals they focus on, how their sales team gets paid, how they go to market, their long term strategy... etc, etc. Learn them, not so you can sell more, but so that you can help them bring value to THEIR bottom line.
I hate being sold, but I love to buy!
Really good write up.
I'm always interested and fascinated by industry feedback. Even if we don't do certain things it's invaluable to be aware of them.
Were things better with or without manufacturer reps being the primary sales engine of the manufacturers? The product knowledge was always lacking, but I saw a lot better communication with the integrators/distributors than I currently see with direct reps. The manufacturers are struggling to get enough support and really need to step up their game when it comes to new and innovative was to get messaging out.
I've conducted my own poll on this (informal), but seems to me that the reps that follow-up are getting the most success. The problem is that the reps are stretched too thin and have little to no support. My company is launching our first AI bots to help follow up later this year. Informal? Absolutely. Will the customers get what they were promised? Yep. I'm interested in seeing how this will be accepted once we launch it.
My company is launching our first AI bots to help follow up later this year. Informal? Absolutely. Will the customers get what they were promised? Yep. I'm interested in seeing how this will be accepted once we launch it.
#7, I'd be curious to hear how that goes. In particular, I am interested in seeing how well / how many questions AI bots can answer relative to what a customer / integrator asks?
Related on support chat: Artificial Intelligence Robot Assistant (ACTi)
- Understand the product better than I. My main complaint is that usually they are knowledgeable on the information publicly available. Regurgitating information from a data sheet or webinar is of no value to me. This may be good enough for 90% of their accounts, but value to a company or individual that keeps up to date on technology and offerings of their manufacturers require deeper knowledge by their reps."
- "Keep up to date on their technology in the marketplace. Don't only know about what you offer, but how what you offer compares to the marketplace."
Interesting comments, both deal with the “What” (Widgets). All of the technology sectors offer devices similar in design, feature sets, and quality. There are no products that are exclusively available from just one integrator. When you drill down on the reasons why end-users purchase technology, they don’t buy the “What” (Widget), they don’t buy the” How” (PoE, Production Vs Private Network), they buy the WHY- RISK MITIGATION.
Unfortunately, few sales people can explain why a company should invest capital resources on Security Upgrades, Add-on’s or New Systems. Companies invest in technology to Mitigate Risk- there are many types of Risk. Discussing features of a particular product merely creates a “Point of Parity” with your competition. The ability to communicate how your technology solution can be applied to your customer’s overall Risk Mitigation Strategy and Improve Outcomes during a critical incident creates a “Point of Difference”. In order to have a meaningful conversation with key stakeholders, you must understand the basics of critical incident response and where technology should fit into the emergency operations planning process.
Being Technically Competent is not enough, you need to be Tactically Aware.