“Be more concerned with

your character than your reputation.

Character is what you REALLY are. Reputation is what people say you are.”

That quote came from Coach John Wooden’s little book entitled “A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court” which sits in my downstairs bathroom. Its the bathroom reader for anyone willing to pick it up and read it.

In our highly social selling world seemingly built on being “social” and connecting with people it seems there is a duality at play of how good we are at building relationships with others or just simply stating “buy my stuff” as we interact with people. In most sales training programs its been repeatedly stated that people buy from those they know, like and trust. Nothing new there. But how about how well do people “remember” you? In other words, WHAT do they remember about you? Your reputation is what people think, feel and believe about you when you leave the room or get off the sales call or send the email. If you’re not being intentional and sincere about your prospects its possible you’ve left them not wanting to know more about you, not liking you or your product and service and they can’t trust you. Pretty sure that’s not the impression you want to leave. That’s why you didn’t get a response. Ouch…sorry – that may have hurt!

I am constantly reviewing and staying alert to how top executives, business owners and decision makers feel about the sales training techniques used when they are solicited by vendors via voice mail or email. Expectations for the customer experience is changing. A recent Sales Force Study, “The State of Sales” indicates that long “to do” lists are keeping sales reps from having sufficient time with customers. Sales reps are doing menial tasks (despite the advancement of technology) and not able to become “trusted advisors” to their customers – which is what prospects and customers want. The pressure to meet sales quotas and having endless sales meetings is all good but let’s not forget to keep the main thing the main thing.

Since time management is a fallacy and we can’t get more than 24 hours in a day, how is it then we can stay top of mind with prospects and become the trusted advisors they’re seeking? How is it that we can be more intentional in creating value with then so they not only come to know, like and trust us but also believe that we have their best interest in mind…or at heart depending on who you ask.

Here are three things you can do to improve your sales performance as it relates to your reputation with prospects and customers:

Think “build partnership” instead of “make sales call”. If you have a vested interest in something the way you approach it changes. When you pick up the phone or send that sales prospecting email if what’s on your mind is to “get something” it’ll come across in the tone of your voice and in the language of your email. If I called you and told you how wonderful I am and why you should buy my product that will solve all your problems you would immediately think to yourself “who does she think she is?” While that’s not a bad question – in this case it is. I’ve likely offended you by sounding selfish and arrogant and it turned you all the way off. You deleted my email and my voice mail.

Be a “Thought Leader”. That means “think”. Research. Your prospect or customer wants innovation and ideas that maybe they hadn’t thought of before to help solve their problems or help them improve some area of business. They want insight into their industry. They want to know that YOU know what’s important to them. What new insight can you bring to solve their problems? They’ll believe you and maybe even like you if you bring information to the table that they’ve been to busy to find on their own. Its possible to buy from people you don’t like but unlikely they’ll buy from you if they don’t trust.
Deliver an amazingly caring experience. Remember Maya Angelou’s quote, “. . .people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” People love to talk about themselves – its human nature. People like to be cared for. Be mindful that the cold sales call or prospecting email is NOT ABOUT YOU, its about them. As Dale Carnegie explains be interested in them first rather than trying to get them interested in you. You win people over and provide a great experience when you learn to listen first. It takes two to build a relationship but somebody has to add the value FIRST – let that be you if you want to make a lasting impact!

How people perceive you is important in any setting, especially when we’re trying to persuade or influence them to invest in our product or service. What they believe about YOU first could mean the difference if they buy or don’t buy. These days of automation and technology people are still seeking meaning and value. Provide that.

Tracy Washington is a Leadership Engagement Consultant, Trainer & Coach who helps frustrated and struggling Sales Leaders, Managers and teams change counterproductive outdated behaviors of engaging that directly impact their bottom line. She is the author of the soon to be released “Relationship Leadership” book and is available for speaking, consulting and training.