Where Did You Buyers Pick Up the "Holier than Thou" Attitude? Relax! Most Sales People Are Actually Trying to Help You
I have no idea where prospects and buyers got the idea in their head that the sales rep they're working with is "priviliged" to be able to be speaking with them, but I've seen it happen way too many times over the past four years.
For one reason or another, a lot of sales calls start off with the air that the prospect is somehow a superior person than the sales rep. I'm sure, considering sales reps are one of the three least trusted professions, there's some long-term bad blood and history between "buyers" and "sellers" at a conceptual level.
However, I would point buyers to some facts about how the global salesforce is evolving. The reps of old are retiring and the old mantra of "Always Be Closing", is slowly but surely being replaced with, "Always Be Helping".
For example, there’s some great research from Dave Kurlan and his team at Objective Management Group, highlighted in this article: “In the old(er) days (pre-2008), if salespeople were motivated, then they were probably motivated by money. According to data from Objective Management Group, 54% of salespeople were money-motivated during the 1990s and first half of the 2000s. Today, the data shows that no more than 27% of salespeople are what we now call extrinsically-motivated.”
In other words, you're sales rep, while certainly partially motivated by money (isn't anyone willing to work at least a little motivated by money?), is not ONLY motivated by money. A lot of reps are actually motivated to help bring products and services to people that can actually benefit from them, like you! And the reality is that while some buyers feel that they're superior to their rep, the rep more likely than not has plenty of other people to speak with aside from you.
So, with that soapbox speech out of the way, here's my take -- and polite guidance -- to why you should at least TRY to treat your sales rep better if you're a potential buyer, or one of the people with purchasing responsibilities at your company.
Why You Should Treat Your Sales Rep Well
Reason 1: Priority Access and Response Time
Just get over it already -- you're not the only person that a sales rep can speak with. In fact, many sales orgs, as they've eveolved with Inbound Lead Generation, are overloaded with leads. They have plenty of people to speak with. They most likely chose you for a reason, one of which should be that they actually think they can help you. If you "behave" yourself and treat your sales rep with a little more respect, you're going to get priority access to them and they'll be faster to respond to the questions you're inevitably going to have along the way.
Reason 2: Effort
The amount of engagement and effort a sales rep is likely to put into you and your business is largely dependent on whether or not they think they can help you, and the extent to which they think you need help. I assure you that if you have challenges that the sales reps' company solves and you have natural urgency to address that challenge in the near-term, I guarantee you that the rep is going to put far more effort into working with you than if you open a conversation with something like, "Eh, we're just looking for some stuff, maybe. Why don't you pitch me?" Don't be an asshole or a lazy buyer. If you continue to use lines like these, just admit that you're lazy. Remember, the more effort your sales rep puts in, the less effort you'll likely have to put in to make changes at your company. A little respect can go a long way.
Reason 3: Time
You like your time, right? You like getting some time back? You like having a few extra hours to yourself every now and again? Good. Same here. So does everyone else. So when your sales rep starts asking you questions about you, your colleagues, and your business, answer them. Those questions, asked the right way, are if nothing else designed to help you save time. The rep is gathering information to determine mainly whether or not you have a challenge that their company could help you solve, and whether or not you are truly committed to solving that problem in the near term. Understanding those factors helps a sales rep be far more prescriptive with their recommendations.
Reason 4: Money
Money. How about money? Do you like saving some money here and there? Does your company like it when you save them a little money? Yea. They do. So, don't be surprised to learn that front line sales reps have far more control over pricing than you might think. If you're upfront about your challenges and what's preventing you from solving them; in other words, if you actually collaborate with a rep along the way as opposed to just "go dark" on them throughout your exploration process, they're going to be far more willing to help you when it comes time to negotiate contracts. I have seen this enough to know that reps that actually respect and get along with their buyers are going to get them more favorable terms and "deals" than those that make their life miserable.
Reason 5: Risk
When you add all these things together, what being a well behaved buyer amounts to is reduced risk. Reduced operational risk, reduced financial risk, reduced business risk. When you collaborate with your rep, they will be even more willing to make sure you avoid potholes and landmines along the way. Remember -- most of them are experts in their space. They literally live and breathe the potential solution to your challenges day in and day out so they probably know far more than you do about solving it, even if that's a hard truth to accept.