The other night I met with a salesman, or as he called himself, “a performance based employee,” to discuss financial planning options (life insurance, retirement planning, saving for a home, etc…). Now, like most people, I have aversion to salesmen. I do not like being swindled, or cajoled, or made to feel guilty—all of these common salesmen tactics. But this performance based employee was better than average. I did note some of his tricks although he did a fine job of building rapport. But the real reason I probably opened up to him was that he did not have the signs of a typical salesman.
Being a salesman is more than just fast-talk, and smooth lines. It’s a look. A culture. And unfortunately I think that is why so many people hate salesman; they have their guard up from the moment they meet. So to all the salesmen out there, here are a few rules that may help you become a better salesman:
Limit the amount of hair gel you use
As a general salesman rule, use only a half-teaspoon of hair gel for every estimated 60,000 hairs on your head. Too many salesmen go overboard with the gel. If you can snap your hair in half, you know it’s too much.
Avoid the “slick-back”
Unless your Italian, or related to the mafia in some other way, never slick your hair back. The last feeling I want when someone is trying to sell me something is that I’ll have a new pair of cement boots and be relocated to the bottom of a river. If your hair naturally slicks back, try giving it a slight angle.
Scale down your wheels
When a salesman comes to meet me and he drives up in a Porsche, I can’t help but get the feeling that he needs my sale for that month’s car payment. It also shows that there are a lot of suckers out there and I don’t want to be one of them. The same applies for expensive suits and jewelry.
Lay off the pinks and purples
Many salesmen think it’s a requirement to be a metrosexual. This isn’t necessarily true. Try laying off some of the flamboyant colors and stick to traditional colors like dark greens, brown, and black (always a classic). Also, your glasses frames should not be any thicker than a #2 pencil.
Don’t wink at me. Ever.
I hate it when salespeople wink. If you want a date, just ask, otherwise let me know what you have to offer.
I only want one card
Don’t give me a stack of 10 business cards because their’s no chance I’ll give them to any of my friends. Especially if you have not met my previous recommendations.
Stop trying to make personal connections
Who cares if we’re from the same state? Or graduated with the same degree? Or we both got drunk and threw up at our sister’s wedding? The more you make me seem like you, the more I’ll want to shoot myself. Just sell me your product and get the hell out.
Kill the metaphors.
In no way is a broken copy machine like a racehorse with a brain tumor. Please stop trying to confuse us with illogical metaphors.
I hope you use these recommendations to make you a better performance based employee. Some will take practice, and hard work, but if you have the drive then you should be able to do it. Because a predictable salesman is like a swimming pool with too much chlorine.