Would you ever tell your interested prospect, “I don’t think our solution is a good fit for your organization”?
Would you ever dare to refer a customer to your competitor’s offering?
Would you ever admit a mistake or expose a weakness to a customer—even if you knew they would never discover it on their own?
If you answered no to any (or all) of the questions above, I hope you keep reading. I maintain that not only should you be willing to do these things—you must do them if you want to enjoy a prosperous, fulfilling career in sales.
Most of my adult life has been spent in the profession of sales. I’m fortunate to have been taught and mentored well. I’ve been through an alphabet soup of sales training: DPS, PSS, TAS, GRS, etc. All slightly different, but all very similar in approach and intent: sales should be a journey of discovery the buyer and seller take together concluding in a mutually agreed upon transaction that benefits both parties. It is honest and real. Sales people who subscribe to this understanding exemplify why I believe sales is a noble profession. They care deeply about others, which is why they have an extensive network of meaningful relationships. They cherish their personal brand and would never do anything to tarnish it. They are consistent winners.
Conversely, sales should NOT be about deceiving someone into buying something they neither need nor want, simply for personal gain of the seller. Don’t’ get me wrong, there are plenty of sales people out there who don’t understand this. I’ve seen them in action. They are the ones who give “sales” a bad name. They are also the ones who don’t last long. Their wins are short-lived. Their relationships are superficial. They bounce from company to company trying to stay one step ahead of confronting the brutal reality that they have no business in sales.
What does this have to do with Karma?
Karma is the ancient Hindu belief that one’s intent and actions influence the future of that individual. One’s good intent and good deeds lead to future happiness; one’s bad intent and bad deeds lead to future suffering. Almost all philosophies and religions across the ages have some version of Karma central to their belief system. For me, Karma isn’t a matter of faith or belief—I know for a fact it is real. I’ve seen it!
Throughout their book, Get-Real Selling, authors Keith Hawk and Michael Boland repeat the mantra, which is at the foundation of their approach to solution selling, “My success can only follow the success of my customer.” As they explain in the chapter on closing, “If we take this approach…then the skill of closing the deal becomes very simple. We reject the belief that we should trick our customer into buying by using some form of ruthlessly effective close.” Yet that is what so many sales people are taught. Gimmicks. Tactics. Catchy phrases. These things are conniving and manipulative. They are disingenuous and selfish. Contrast that with the Hawk-Boland way, which is genuine and selfless.
It’s Karma. If I focus my efforts on helping my customers achieve success, then I will be rewarded with riches (commissions), referrals, testimonials, and esteem. However, if I focus my efforts on lining my own pockets at the expense of my customers’ best interests, then whatever I profit in the short-term will ultimately be supplanted by the curse of discontent, discredit, and diminishing paychecks. Sure, you might be able to beat your customers and trick them into making a bad purchase, but you’ll never beat Karma!