The only thing that agitates me more than the trolls on LinkedIn are direct sellers who send me random messages in the form of questions: “What skin care products do you use?”, “Do you need more energy?” or “Have you tried our weight loss product?” without knowing me or spending the time to build rapport with me. I’ve always been a bit harsh about direct sellers because many of them simply suck at selling and building their “legs” (or whatever they call it). Whatever training they’re receiving is inadequate. In my opinion, the direct selling industry needs an overhaul to be more relevant and more relationship focused. Whether you’re in direct selling or not, relationship-selling will always be important to some extent, even in transactional sales.
If you’re a woman especially, you have most likely experienced this sales approach from these sellers. And, you can probably smell the sell. The seller connects with you and then goes in for the kill with “Buy my stuff. It will change your life.” For me personally, my guard goes up immediately. I even hesitate to accept friend requests on Facebook, in particular, to avoid direct sellers. I’m ready with my objections before the pitch even happens. Anyone else like this???
Building trust is paramount, yet a challenge because so many sellers are so bad at this skill that buyers become suspicious of a new “friend’s” intentions.
Then one day, my hope was restored! Someone friend requested me on Facebook after seeing me present at a marketing conference. I always accept those friend requests from those I meet at events to continue to build my network and platform. Honestly though, I hesitated when I looked at her profile and saw she was a direct seller for SeneGence (LipSense), but hey, she saw me speak at an event and established “common ground” with me, so I decided to give her a chance to be my “friend”. Transparently, I still had my guard up, ready for the hard sell to happen. But it didn’t happen and I kind of felt bad for pre-judging her. Our chats were casual and rapport-building over a few days. She managed to disarm me, though not fully.
She eventually got to her indirect direct sell by asking me what kind of lipstick I use, giving me compliments about my lips (a way to my heart). My objections were ready and I shot them at her. She handled by pushback well. And then she said,
“Would you be willing to try it if I sent you a free sample [of LipSense] and then give me a review of what you think, good and bad?”
Well, hell, I am not going to say “no” to free lipstick!!! She won me over in that moment because …
- She made it about me.
- She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – to try out her product and make the decision on my own if the product made sense (no pun intended) to me.
- She believed in her product so much that she was willing to spend the time and money to mail me samples.
- She made me want to buy before even trying out the product.
My inner child emotions were triggered as I waited for my surprise to arrive in the mail. I couldn’t wait to try it and I fell in love with my new “toy” instantly. Of course I had to post selfies of me wearing my new favorite lipstick and tag her in the pictures. And now I’m about to place an order. She let me decide on my own to become a buyer.
It’s not a new concept that people hate being sold to. More importantly for sellers to be mindful of is that buyers don’t NEED to be sold to. They can do their own research. They can ask for recommendations from others. They can test out products and services before making a buying decision. Taking a “test drive” is not strictly reserved for car dealers anymore.
How can you give your potential buyers a juicy opportunity (beyond research and recommendations) to make a decision on their own, gently guided by you?
Always remember … be a friend, make a friend.
Do you need to improve your rapport building skills? We can help you with that. Check out our additional resources below:
Women Your Mother Warned You About Podcast – featuring topics for women in sales and business
Spontaneous Selling 1.0 – video sales training course