Understanding the Sales Person

By Michael Perla on Jul 16, 2012

 As part of our series on interviewing Top Performing sales (and business) professionals, we interviewed a man named Johnny Van, a car salesman out of the Buffalo, NY area. Like many of the best sales professionals across industries, Johnny is fanatical around follow-up, asking for referrals, and being honest and reliable – many of the same traits you’d want in a Partner at a management consulting firm, but Johnny sells cars. Per the title of this blog post, we interviewed Johnny a few months back so we could share his story and capture what made him one of the best car salesmen on the East Coast. What Johnny said:

 … People bring that baggage to the sale and you have to recognize it while trying to make them comfortable.

I couldn’t help think that Johnny was as much a psychologist as he was a sales professional, and there are many that would say it’s often one and the same. Ultimately, people buy from people and the ability to relate, empathize and potentially soothe a buyer is of incredible importance in the buying cycle, whether it’s business-to-consumer or business-to-business sales. The common denominator is the psychology of human beings, who, at some point in the past, have probably had a bad buying experience and bring baggage with them to every sale.

The ‘So What’ here is that it’s vitally important to understand how the person (or persons) buying whatever you are selling has been burned in the past. What baggage do they bring with them – broken promises, products that didn’t work, horrible customer service, and on and on. You can either pay the price up-front (take the effort to understand their baggage) or pay for it later (lost opportunity and high cost of sales).

Let me know in the comments section if you have any sales stories that relate to what Johnny said.

Michael Perla

Written by Michael Perla

Michael Perla is a strategic leader and co-author of Symmetrics Group’s book "7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation." Michael specializes in providing actionable insights to marketing and sales organizations to help them increase pipelines, win ratios and productivity. Having sold and led projects with the Global 50 to Fortune 1000 companies, Michael provides the analytical rigor of a financial analyst with the holistic skills of a strategist to help Symmetrics Group clients improve marketing or sales performance. He has worked as a sales overlay, head of sales operations, and head of strategic marketing planning, in addition to a sales effectiveness consultant. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, reading, and watching his kids play sports.

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