|Back to Back Issues Page|
Personable versus "Professional" Sales and Marketing
November 09, 2015
Personable versus "Professional" Sales and Marketing
Let's get something straight right from the get-go: being PROFESSIONAL is not just about being competent, presentable, diligent, efficient and so forth. It is also about getting RESULTS -- after all, unless the cash register is ringing you will soon be out of business (along with your merry staff of sales and marketing "professionals"!)
My purpose in this post is to talk about the two styles of sales and marketing that I have observed working in and with countless sales organizations with diverse markets, products/ services and customers over the years. What it all boils down to is PERSONALITY and what I have discovered - which you can ratify through observation - is that there are two kinds of sellers and marketers: personable and "professional"
The reason I began this post with the clarification about the definition of "professionalism" is that, in a sense, both of these styles of selling and marketing are just that. By virtue of the fact that a good sales or marketing person delivers new BUSINESS, both of these personality types or styles, if you will, can fall into that category. That is to say, you can be a top-notch performer whether you are naturally personable or what I am referring to as "professional". However, that is where the similarity ends...
A personable sales and marketing approach is the friendly, disarming, off-the-cuff kind of conversation that a killer salesperson engages their customers in that at once is charming and yet at the same time METHODICAL. This approach reflects my saying that, "sales is smiles" in the biggest way (come to think of it, the "professional" style of sales and marketing that I will describe next actually flies in the face of this saying of mine!). A personable salesperson is like a standup comedian who is also a master of improvisation. He or she can artfully dodge negativity while weaving a web of cheerful innocence that entices their audience and lures them into a trusting relationship. Watching a personable sales or marketing person who is a real master can be mesmerizing; you are drawn into how naturally and spontaneously the conversation with the customer evolves with countless subtle interjections and an easy-going flow that is almost impossible to resist. They are the person who sounds like they are talking to a best friend when in fact they may have only just MET a prospective customer for the first time!
The thing to keep in mind about being a personable seller or marketer is that you are NOT just having a "good time" with customers. The goal is certainly to make customers feel at ease and win them over but at the same time - and many casual observers may miss this - a seasoned personable salesperson is doing 2 crucial things as they converse with a new customer: the first is to ENGAGE the customer by getting them to open up and talk (remember that sales should be first and foremost about asking QUESTIONS and LISTENING); the second, which leads from the first, is that a personable salesperson, in the midst of jokes and jibes, is actually carrying out the indispensable function of QUALIFYING their customer. In fact, let's use this crucial aspect of the sales process to highlight the difference between personable and "professional" sales
A personable salesperson, while being friendly and conversational, interjects from time to time with key information-gathering questions whenever the occasion arises, e.g. "That's great to hear! Now that you mention it, what is the biggest problem that you have with [x, y, z] in general?" On the other hand, a "professional" sales person may literally interview/ interrogate (for want of a better word!) customers with 15-20 qualification question that delve into the customer's business environment and problems in the greatest of detail (of course, they will set up this qualification session in advance and let the customer know that they have a series of question that they would like to ask them in order to find out more about their business)
A "professional" sales and marketing approach as I am using the word here is the exact opposite of the "friendly neighbor" approach of personable sellers and marketers. Once again, however, an accomplished salesperson who has mastered this approach is a sight to behold. The "professional" styles of sales and marketing is more of a one-way issuing of DIRECTIVES or instructions to customers where you basically say, "This is what we are going to do" and by virtue of your authority, posture and credibility a customer will willingly go along. There is something about the earnestness of a "professional" salesperson that wins you over. You can just SENSE that this person is 100% bought in to what they are selling. Their tone and confidence is such that the usually resistance and objections that spring to a customer's mind are completely forgotten. It is almost like watching a case of hypnosis where the sheer force of personality of one person enraptures and dominates their listener
A professional salesperson does EVERYTHING "by the book" which is one of the main reasons that customers implicitly trust them. You are not only saying, "This is what we are going to do" to customers but "this is the way things ARE". It is like saying, "I am only a representative and everything I am saying is in accordance with the accepted processes and protocols of this industry and business". It is kind of hard to describe but as a true agent of the business, a "professional" salesperson is kind of like a robot or, better, a website. You know you cannot negotiate with a website and you either buy into what is being said or you don't. A "professional" salesperson has the added advantage of being able to speak with you and use the force of their personality proactively in order to lure you into their trust and do business with them. It is almost as if, while selling, a "professional" salesperson has no "ego" of their own; everything that they are saying and doing is simply acting on behalf of the business. What you see is what you get and therefore you trust that what you get will be just as professional and "on the level" as the salesperson who is telling you it is
Understanding these 2 styles is easy in the world of sales but what about marketing? It is safe to say that this, too, generally follows one of these two approaches? I can say "yes" in answer to that question without even thinking about it knowing that sales and marketing are essentially the same thing and should even use the same WORDS (you can read about the difference between the two or watch my video about it here). If you think about various advertisements you will realize that they too fall into one of these categories. Many ads are "serious" and no-nonsense whereas others are intentionally comical. It really is as simple as that. The big difference between styles of sales and styles of marketing is that the latter can be CREATED. What I mean by this is that while your brand is the PERSONALITY of your business, that does not mean that YOU need to have the same personality. You can create what I call a marketing personality which is larger-than-life while at the same time you are the most down-to-earth person in the world. On the other hand, with sales you do not have a choice. Unless you are a consummately gifted actor you are stuck with your natural personality which, once again, will be either personable or "professional". As to the question of which style is more appropriate, your NATURAL style will always work in sales and in my opinion, more of the most successful marketing nowadays is of the personable kind (probably as a result of decades of LOUD and obnoxious sales and marketing being trumpeted at us to the point where we have become averse to that kind of traditional "professional" promotion)
The main "takeaway" in all this is: do not get caught up in trying to imitate a successful selling style that just is not YOU. If you hear about or see a successful salesperson in action you should only try and imitate what they are doing if it complements your OWN style of selling. The worst mistake you can make in this regard is to trying an incorporate components of a "professional" sales pitch into your own personable style of communicating with your customers, or vice versa. Of course, at times a personable salesperson is serious and a "professional" one can lighten up. On the other hand, some personable salespeople even CLOSE deals with jokes while there are some "professional" salesfolk out there who rarely if ever laugh (which does not at all take away from the RESPECT that their customers and peers accord them because THAT IS WHO THEY ARE)
Get into your own flow. Find your own rhythm. Just as there are as many paths to God as there are creatures, so there are as many ways of selling...
Sales is SILENCE, Marketing is MEASUREMENT
PS. like it? please share it!
|Back to Back Issues Page|