Imagine a newly insured policyholder who shows the insurance salesperson to the door, closes it after him, and then scratches his head and suddenly doubts whether he should have put up more resistance when it came to including glass coverage in the home insurance policy and whether he may be a little over-insured now. Maybe you've been in a situation like this yourself. If so, I bet you remember that it doesn't feel good at all.
As a salesperson, there is one thing you should understand: You are not there to deprive the client of his money, nor are you there to look after him. You are not ripping him off, nor are you holding his hand. You’re not a con man, but you’re not on a customer support mission either. You are neither the HMRC nor Mother Teresa.
So what is your job? You are there to offer a deal, a mutual agreement. As it is expressed in Latin, do ut des: I give so that you will give. The salesperson gives and takes; the client in turn takes and gives. Both parties must contribute to the deal; both are getting something out of it. It is an open, transparent, fair, and equitable activity, aimed at building a long-term, consolidated relationship. This ancient principle of mutuality not only is the legal basis for mutual agreements but also serves as the foundation for every social community that is intended to last more than half a day. It is known as the principle of reciprocity. You and I are shaking hands; we are striking a deal. And we are striking it in such a way that on our next meeting, we will be able to look each other in the eye. Anyone who does not understand this concept is a savage and is more thief than salesperson.
Swindling Is Not in Your Job Description
This is a serious matter. We’re talking about the basis of our culture. From our earliest years, most of us are taught to return every gesture of kindness, to conclude every deal with decency. “Did you say thank you? Come on, say it again – a little louder this time!” Outstanding obligations are a burden to most of us. To owe someone, to have short-changed somebody, leaves us with a cold, unpleasant feeling, even if at times we get something out of it. It’s a matter of moral conscience. That’s how it is for me anyway. And probably for you too.
Today, politicians, managers, bankers, insurance salespeople, and other groups have to fight for their reputations. Why? Bad salesmanship! Social unrest is nearly always triggered between the privileged on one hand and those discriminated against on the other – or rather between those who in a transaction have come away with more than they deserve and those who get short-changed.
Cheating is divisive. Selling unites. What brought families together as tribes and clans? Among other things, trade through the distribution of labour. I’ll go hunting while you tend the fire and collect berries. Fair transactions. What brought tribes together into communities? The travelling salesperson who sold flint and hides, and the market, in which supply and demand struck a balance. And what binds the nations of today’s world? Advertising and marketing, which draws people from all over the world to our products and services, and the business deals that we make on a daily basis. Anyone who sells is uniting the world. Communicating. Bringing people together.
Whoever sells well, not only is doing good but is also securing his success in the long run. Genuine success. Whoever does good will receive his just due. You can count on that. I would rather visit a customer ten times and come back home at night able to look at myself in the mirror than visit that same customer once, rake in the cash, and not be able to look at him or myself with integrity.
So, my friends, if selling is really all that—giving, doing good, uniting the world, fairness, sustainability – if it is a noble deed and our sacred duty, then how do you dare go out there and claim that all you’re doing is consulting? Does your business card say key account manager? Consultant? Regional manager? Representative? Do you pretend that you’re coming for a cup of tea and some small talk, because you're afraid of admitting what you really are? You are sales professionals. You should be proud of it.
By Martin Limbeck is an international sales authority and sought-after keynote speaker, dubbed “The Porsche of Sales.” He helps sales professionals seal more deals. Martin has trained and inspired audiences in sixteen countries for more than twenty years. The Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) has been honoured as Top Speaker of the Year 2014, International Speaker of the Year 2012, and Trainer of the Year 2011 and 2008. He teaches at Reutlingen European School of Business, Steinbeis University Berlin, and St. Gallen University, and is the author of several bestsellers. His latest work is NO Is Short for Next Opportunity — How Top Sales Professionals Think.