Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are relationship-builders: they can create and maintain relationships with a wide range of people."

Selling without being sold

Selling without being sold

There is an old saying that everyone sells. I believe in this saying. As I explain in my book, Eliminate Your Competition, selling is nothing more than helping someone make a decision that is favorable to you.

My life is business-to-business (B2B) sales. My book is designed for those sales situations and most of the advice on this site is geared toward that audience. However, I am frequently most impressed and most unimpressed with a particular type of business-to-consumer (B2C) salesperson: the waiter/waitress at a mid-high level restaurant.

Did s/he make a special drink for you? Accommodate you with a different type of water? Offer suggestions on pairings of wine with your plate? Suggest a particular dish based on feedback from other customers or even personal tastings or observations of the raw food that arrived earlier that day? Perhaps, encouraged you to try today’s chef special (which almost always has a slightly higher margin for the restaurant)? And of course, checked back 2 or 3 times to make sure that food was prepared to your liking and offering a further refreshment from the bar?

When we go to a restaurant, we expect the food to be exactly correct. There are too many choices in any mid-size or above metropolitan area if the food isn’t excellent. However, my favorite restaurants are where the servers are amazing.

I live in Cincinnati. My favorite restaurant in town (where my wife and I will celebrate her birthday in a few weeks) is where we ask in the reservation to be seated in David’s area. There dozens of fine restaurants in downtown Cincinnati but David’s restaurant is where we go on special occasions, and it is primarily because of David.

David has been our server for over 5 years. We know that his service and recommendations will be fantastic. My wife will likely order one of her two favorite dishes that the chef prepares to a standard that is probably unmatched in downtown Cincinnati, but I will experiment. David will guide the choices of my appetizer, entree, and dessert.

David is our Trusted Adviser at this restaurant, and he fulfills that role splendidly. He will recommend a couple of wines based on his knowledge of our tastes and our dishes and perhaps steer us to wine by the glass if our meals are not complimentary (driving up the profitability of the restaurant). This is the role of a salesperson. Better service, customization, and higher customer satisfaction at a higher profit. I know that I will spend more money with David than another server, but I also know that my wife’s birthday will be even more special.

Salespeople excel when the quality control of the product that we sell is fantastic. This means we don’t need to cover for an overdone or under-seasoned dish (or outside of the restaurant world – a product or service that was not made to par). We can focus on other high-value activities that add continued relationship value to our customers.

However, working at a business with excellent quality control is only part of the reason for the success of a salesperson. What did you do to offer extra value to your customers? Are you part of the success of that restaurant in the eyes of the customer?

In my book and on these pages, I frequently say that there are three items that each salesperson sells:

  • your product
  • your company
  • yourself

If any single one of these three things is missing, then you risk winning the deal. In the case of David and his restaurant owner, you risk that we will go to another fine Cincinnati restaurant on the next special occasion.

Header Photo waiter by zoetnet

One Reply to “Selling without being sold”

  1. Just adding on….
    Good pre-sales, sales and post-sales service in the software business is critical. If you’re in the enterprise software space like I am then it’s not easy to have customers make fast decisions. Lots of thinking, renumeration and compromise has to be done. Whatever service you can provide to the customer during their journey will be a great to cementing the relationship and hopefully the sale too.

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