Don't Be Their Friend, Be Their Salesperson

BY Jessica Helinski
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For the most part, everyone wants to be liked. In sales, this desire can actually derail a rep’s success. Striving to be friends with a prospect or client may come at a high price, as some reps will promise (or do!) anything to win that friendship. As Vanessa Merit Nornberg points out in an Inc. article, “The truth is, however, being the best friend of your customer, the way most sales reps define it, will mean forsaking the needs of your company, rather than finding a way for both your client and your business to get what they need.” You can avoid falling into this scenario by implementing the techniques that Norberg suggests. You’ll find that winning clients with respect, rather than “being loved,” will drive your sales. 

First, always keep value top of mind, and not just the value you perceive. She points out that reps must understand how your product or service’s attributes create value in the lives of the customer. “Without that understanding, [you may] revert to selling by any means necessary, instead of by selling smart,” Norberg explains.

She also suggests focusing on what makes your product or service unique. Introduce competitors and, by showing how your offering is superior, you won’t need to slash prices or offer special incentives. Instead, you help the “customer to determine that your product is best for his needs and make a confident purchase. No need to beg, whine, or cajole,” she writes.

Also, how will what you’re selling change lives? It’s vital you know this so that you can pass on that information to the prospect. If you can show this to each and every prospect, you’ll get instant buy-​in without having to sacrifice a thing. 

All of Norberg’s suggestions drive home the fact that successful salespeople don’t need to rely on being loved by others to make sales. If you follow her advice, you’ll be able to sell successfully without discounts, flattery, or any other desperate attempts to be a friend. As she points out, “salespeople do the best when they understand that their customers will love them for listening carefully, for being knowledgeable, for telling the truth, and for helping their customer to make the right decision.”