It’s not getting any easier for salespeople. And from all indications, it’s only going to get worse. For one reason, when customers encounter a salesperson, their reaction is predictable. They instantly go into a defensive mode. Putting their dukes up mentally, they’re ready to do battle with the salesperson, someone they see as trying to manipulate them into making a decision they’ll regret.

Then, sensing the situation, salespeople counter by putting on a friendly, helpful and understanding face to disarm customers and gain their confidence. Even so, customers are suspicious and distrustful, feeling someone is about to take advantage of them.

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Sure, you can argue that such a description may be an exaggeration, but what’s unavoidably clear is this: Customers don’t like salespeople.

The explosion of online sales is not just about convenience or access to a broader range of products and services. Customers see making online purchases as the way they can get what they want easily, quickly and without having to deal with salespeople. Being in charge of the buying experience is exhilarating.

What it's all about

Whether we call ourselves consultants, relationship managers, advisers, producers or anything else that tends to disguise our objective, we’re salespeople.

Figuring out what sales is all about isn’t easy. All too often, it gets confusing and messed up. And when that happens, it alienates customers. It drives them nuts and they want to get away.

We get so wound up with baloney about how to be a successful salesperson that we miss what selling is all about, if we ever knew it in the first place. Just before she left a home at the end of the day, the cleaning woman said, “Please look things over to make sure I did everything. I want you to be happy. If I missed anything, I’ll come back tomorrow.”

Want to succeed in sales? Make sure your customers are happy.

Graham, of GrahamComm, is a marketing and sales strategist-consultant and business writer. He publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Reach him at, (617) 774-9759 or

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