Beginning our new series on Network Selling, we’ll start with the very first element required: respect. Not just Network Selling, but everything in civilized life begins and ends with respect as the very foundation. Every good experience, be it a social or business experience, depends on mutual respect for its success. Too often, salespeople create a weak illusion that they respect their prospect. But, the feeling portrayed across the bargaining table is along the lines of, “I just need you to sign up, get out of my way, and quit wasting so much of my time.” And trust me, the prospect will feel it.
So what does it mean for a seller to respect a buyer really?
The Buyer Cycle
To begin, a salesperson needs to respect the buyer’s own process. The buyer very likely has a different timeframe than you do. It’s what we call the buyer cycle. Having been in sales most of my life, I clearly understand that the buyer cycle can be difficult to respect. Of course, you’d prefer that the buyer’s cycle fit in your cycle! But instead, it must be the other way around. Let’s say that you’re in the market for a new car. You do adequate research, and then go down to a dealership to check one out. At your initial meeting, the car salesperson is quite happy. Because you’ve done serious research, they think that it will be an easy sale.
But, that salesperson can’t see into your head. They can’t look at your life’s agenda, which might include a kid on the way, or moving to a new home or even a new city. A million other things that could be associated with this potential purchase. The salesperson can’t take these factors into account because you haven’t shared them, and aren’t likely to. One thing that seller is doing (if they’re any good) is figuring out what role you’re playing. The salesperson wants to talk to the decision maker. But, at this stage of the game, you very well might be the analyst or the evaluator, who seller is apparently not interested in talking to. At that moment, the seller is violating the respect of that buyer (you). They’re not respecting your role.
It Goes Both Ways
At that moment, the salesperson has demonstrated that they are not respecting your role. When this happens, your respect for that seller is also going to go down. Ultimately, respect in a sales cycle must be mutual.
Conversely, when a salesperson shows respect for a buyer, the buyer will then respect the seller. In fact, for a real “win-win” situation to take place, the respect must be mutual. Say, for some reason, that the buyer doesn’t show respect for the seller. That will injure the sales cycle. It’s important that respect for each other goes both ways.
B2B Buying Cycle
Moving a little closer to home, a B2B seller must respect a B2B buying cycle. To succeed, one must pay meticulous attention to it. A seller in the B2B environment is usually climbing up the ladder within that prospect company, making his or her way to the final decision maker.
A competent B2B seller is always creating the buying center. In Pipeliner CRM, the buying center is a feature that visually shows all possible lines of influence upon a purchase. These lines could, and usually do, come from within a company, but they might even come from outside the company, as in the case of a consultant. Whether or not a seller is using Pipeliner, they should be creating that buying center, so they know exactly who they are dealing with.
In the buying cycle, just as it must in the car sales example, respect plays a significant role. A person who might be your best possible internal champion. But, they could get turned off if you don’t want to talk to them because they don’t hold the specific role you’re looking for. Instead of being disappointed (or worse, disrespectful!) that you’re not talking to the “right person,” it would be much more beneficial for you to say, “Oh, you’re the analyst! You probably have the most important job when it comes to purchasing. You’re the one making recommendations to the decision-maker, who will rely on your good judgment.”
Treat Everyone Equally
The American Declaration of Independence asserted that all people are created equal. It’s a true statement, and it’s one that all of us should indeed be following. Respect should be shown equally, regardless of race, gender, religion, nation, language, sexual preference or anything else.
Sadly, there are many places where respect for others completely disappears. Airlines come to mind. Unless you’re in first class, you’re pretty much treated like cattle. And, if you sit in an aisle seat, you’re really in for a bad time. If someone goes into a jewelry store to buy his wife a present for their 25th anniversary, he’s likely to be judged by his dress and appearance. Unless he appears affluent, there’s likely to be judgment—and a lack of respect—for him to deal with.
In too many places in our society, there is this lack of respect. Sure, many talk a good game, but do they demonstrate it?
A primary attribute of respect is good behavior. This is what is exhibited when, for example, a lady comes to the table, and everyone stands up. Unfortunately, too many children are being left to learn their “manners” from television and movies—and for the most part, they’re no manners at all.
In another example, many cultures exhibit real respect for their elders. Asian and Latin American cultures come to mind. In such households, nobody begins eating until the patriarch or matriarch of the family has seated themselves and begun eating.
There is an old saying in my family which translates to, “to wear a tuxedo you need two generations.” What this means is just that it’s not just the tuxedo, the clothing, that makes someone appear elegant. It also must reflect the behavior the person has inherited from their family and upbringing.
Despite the disappearing everyday respect in our society, you can still see respect in action in certain places. For example, stay at a 4-star hotel sometime. They treat you exceptionally well, and certainly with respect. It’s one of the most critical aspects of what they do, and they do it with a lot of pride. If you’re smart, you’ll show it back with little gestures like tipping the bellboy.
Resorts will demonstrate this as well, and in the tourism industry, recommendations mean everything. If resorts don’t show respect, nobody will recommend them and, in the end, no one will travel there. And while they may not say it in so many words, the offended travelers are genuinely saying, “They didn’t respect us!”
The Full Meaning
Why have I taken the time to lay out the full meaning of respect? Because as we go along and I use that word, I need you to understand that I mean everything that I have expressed here! A 10,000-page book could be written on the word respect.
The Primary Reason
So why is it that there is such a lack of respect in our society? Or, bringing it back home, why would a seller not respect a buyer?
Perhaps the disrespectful person or disrespectful seller doesn’t respect themselves. And why is that? Maybe (most likely) as the person was growing up, their parents didn’t respect them. Which most likely means the parents didn’t respect themselves, either. A person can learn self-respect, though. It can be as simple as finding something you like about yourself, and then other things you can admire about yourself, and then things you can admire and respect in others.
For a salesperson to thrive and succeed in today’s networked society, it starts with the salesperson, who must learn self-respect if they don’t already have it. This leads to mutual respect, which must exist in our Network Selling model. And what does mutual respect lead to? Trust. And you’ll discover (and we’ll take this up in a future post in this series) that trust cannot exist without mutual respect.
If every person in the world learned self-respect, and then respect for others…it would certainly be a much saner planet, wouldn’t it?