Part of my job as a management consultant is that I work with lots of vendors. I even evaluate vendors for lots of different projects and parts of businesses. I work with payroll companies, telephone companies, printers, cable companies, IT consultants, and the list goes on and on. In my normal process for gathering bids I meet with lots of salespeople so I know a few things about sales but there is one "pet peeve" of mine when it comes to dealing with salespeople - don't assume I'm stupid.
Yes, I'm blonde. Yes, I'm a woman. And, yes, I love shoes. But don't assume because of these things that I'm stupid and don't remember what you tell me. You know, they didn't give me a Master's Degree from The Citadel for nothing. I recently had this happen to me with a vendor. I am working with a new vendor for a project and the process is already difficult and makes me nervous because it has to be implemented perfectly. In the process of trying to get everyone coordinated, an issue comes up so I contact the salesperson that I'm working with to get it resolved and he tells me that it is my fault that we don't have this one thing because I told him in our meeting that I didn't need it. I'm a pretty smart girl and had he mentioned that particular product to me I would have known that I do need it because, guess what, I know what that is and I understand why I need it. So, don't assume I'm stupid and can't remember what we talked about. I have a memory like an elephant (hence Bartleby) and I'm the kind of buyer that will pull my project from you at the last minute because you are not meeting my needs (translation - pissing me off).
There is a lesson to be learned here regarding sales - buyers/consumers are savvy today so do not go into a sales meeting and assume you know what they want or need or know already. Listen. This is a skill that many people are having a hard time developing, but listen to your consumers needs and then work with them to find a solution that meets that need. Before all this happened with this vendor, I was talking the other day with my good friend Shauna Heathman of Mackenzie Image Consulting about how salespeople could use communication training that isn't the traditional sales trainings and theories. She works with people on developing communication skills that can help salespeople have an edge over others when dealing with buyers like me and we talked about how salespeople get plunged into the shark tank from their first day and never get any quality training on buyers/consumers, particularly women. Salespeople that want to have a competitive edge and insight into those lucrative transactions should talk to companies like her's to learn how to communicate with buyers like me. We are complex (again, shameless plug, my transparency post goes over this in more detail) and knowing how to communicate with us will give any salesperson a competitive advantage.