Without Remorse

One mark of an excellent salesperson is an absolute lack of doubt that he or she has done the customer a favor by delivering the product

You never know where you might find a sales lesson. I found one on a Northwoods weekend during a visit to the local grocery store.

In the meat department an elderly gentleman was passing out samples of fresh bratwurst patties – the store’s own brand. He definitely was not the typical grocery store product demonstrator. This guy was a salesman to the core.

He called out regularly in a voice loud enough to be heard but not annoying, in a collection of phrases, the sum total of which made a convincing message.

“Our own brats, made into patties.”

“Made fresh last night.”

“Four to a box.”

“Can’t beat the price.”

“Just grill ‘em up and eat ‘em.”

“Take a box home.”

Freshly fried samples lay on a table next to a bowl of southwestern-style mustard – delicious. I did “take a box home,” even though brats were not on the shopping list my wife had given me.

The real difference

I’ll bet that man sold hundreds of brat patties for his store that day. Driving back to our place, I thought about what made him different from other demonstrators.

Yes, he was outgoing and vocal, whereas most people dishing out samples just sit quietly, speaking about the product only when approached, and then softly. Yes, his sales points hit all the right buttons. Yes, he had conviction about and pride in what he was selling, almost as if he had made the patties himself (and maybe he had).

But still there was something more: He showed a complete lack of what we might call seller’s remorse.

We all know about buyer’s remorse. It’s the feeling we get after buying something expensive: Should I really have spent this money? Did I pay too much? Do I actually need this after all? Should I reconsider? Most often the feeling passes and we end up satisfied with the purchase.

Seller’s remorse is similar. It’s the feeling a salesperson can get after convincing a customer to buy a product or service. I doubt many salespeople get this feeling after a customer just walks in and buys something off the shelf. But many get it after they steer a customer toward a product or an add-on he or she might not have considered.

In the pipe maintenance business, maybe that’s a post-cleaning camera inspection of a clogged line. Or maybe it’s the lining or pipe-burst replacement of a problem sewer lateral instead of just another Band-Aid rodding or jetting job. As the customer signs on the line, the thoughts might creep in: Did I do the right thing? Can the customer afford this? Am I taking advantage? Is this really in the customer’s interest?

Before the fact

The problem for the remorseful salesperson is that the remorse almost inevitably becomes part of, and detracts from, the sales presentation itself. It makes the salesperson stop short of utter conviction about the product’s benefits. And that lack of conviction becomes a loophole through which the customer can escape.

It is often said of top salespeople that they “have the killer instinct,” that they “take no prisoners,” that they “go straight for the jugular.” Another and kinder way to describe them might be to say that they have no seller’s remorse. And why should they?

They believe absolutely in the product or service they offer. They are certain that the customer is better off making the purchase. They know they are not taking advantage but doing the customer a favor. They believe that to their core, it comes across in the sales presentation, and as a result, the customer is sold.

So it was with the gentleman spending his Saturday morning selling fresh brat patties in a Northwoods grocery store.

Of course, a salesperson with such power could abuse it, applying it to sell people what they don’t really want or need, just because they can, just for the commission. But smart salespeople know such behavior comes back to haunt – that in the end people they manipulate or bully will avoid them in the future, and that customers they truly help will return again and again for more advice and more products or services.

A lesson to savor

So perhaps one of the best lessons a salesperson can learn is to sell ethically and without remorse. Believe that what you are selling is a quality solution. That in the near or long term it will save the customer money, time and aggravation. That by making this sale you are helping the customer. Let no sign of doubt or remorse creep in. Chances are your sales will improve with this simple (though not easy) change in attitude.

I savored that lesson the evening after my grocery store trip, along with the brat patties my wife and I cooked to perfection on a charcoal grill.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.