In an increasingly digital world the traditional workplace has been extended onto social networks, professional networking sites and broken free of the regular 9 to 5. As a result, modern salespeople are having to navigate a shifting landscape of social do’s and don’ts as they build and nurture working relationships.
How can we monitor where to draw the line between what is deemed professional and what is not? Here are my top 3 things to be on the lookout for:
The overfamiliarity pitfall
It’s getting harder to separate work and home life with social media platforms becoming a significant part of a salespersons networking day-to-day. Whilst it may be worthwhile creating separate professional profiles for networking most information is easily within reach. The danger? Feeling as if you know your prospect or client better than they may feel comfortable with.
There is a distinct difference between mentioning a sports result if you’re aware they like a certain team and commenting on their daughter’s 10th birthday party pictures on Facebook – which is plain creepy!
“91 percent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility.”and“top performers averaged 30 percent lower gregariousness than below average performers.” Steve W. Martin, Sales Strategy Lecturer at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, Harvard Business Review
Although it may fly against a salesperson’s instinct to befriend a client, a modicum of restraint and a professional outlook leads to a more profitable relationship.
A ‘social relationship’, “has the lowest Return On Investment of any relationship.” according to Author Sales and Business Growth Coach, Keith Dugdale. So, steer clear of the temptation to discuss anything too far from the business topic at hand. Let your client lead the type of relationship you have but remain mindful and make the interactions you do have productive.
Don’t attempt banter. You’re not friends, nor should you want to be as you need a professional relationship to best serve your product and your customer’s needs. Acknowledge that you don’t know your client well enough to tell the funniest joke you heard in the pub this weekend or an embarrassing story from your catalogue of gaffs. Also avoid controversial topics. The Business of Trust Founder and Managing Director, Keith Dugdale, suggests that “talking about these things (religion, politics, gay rights, gun control, etc.) is just plain risky—you never know how the other person is going to react.”
Loose Lips Cost Sales
Don’t be that person. We know you want to be seen to be infallible in front of your prospects or clients but don’t pretend you have a Teflon coating. Things go wrong and you may need to step up and take responsibility for these on behalf of the bigger team you work with.
If there is a snafu be the hero not the wise-guy. If you blame your support staff, draw attention to divisions within your company or issues in your product you could lose your client’s respect and any future sales. They are not your friend for you to offload your woes to. They simply don’t care why something is wrong, they want to know about the solution and the timescale.
If you can soak up the negative impact, fix the issue and shield your team. You can turn almost any problem into an opportunity to demonstrate how responsive you (and your team) are when your client needs you. Plus, Sandra from admin will give you the biggest slice of cake next time she bakes. We all like Sandra!
You can turn this failure into an example of excellence. In other words, you can have your cake AND eat it.
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