Sales people can learn a lesson from the recent events surrounding Lance Armstrong to be better at selling.
This past week, one of the most decorated cyclist and athletes of all time has been found out to be a liar and a cheat. His 7 Tour de France titles were won by using performance enhancing drugs and other tactics that run counter to the spirit of competition. Armstrong misled the public and investigators for the better part of a decade and still hasn’t come clean and admitted he lied.
I think the hardest part of this tragedy initially for me is actually believing the accusations against Armstrong. I didn’t want to. The hope his story provided people was inspiring. The good his Livestrong foundation does for cancer victims is incredible. Overcoming cancer to win 7 Tour de France titles gave everyone affected by this terrible disease hope that they too can overcome and accomplish tremendous things. Now, the foundation of the house that was built to do such good has collapsed.
What does this have to do with selling you ask? Lance Armstrong engaged in activities that many poor and unscrupulous sales people engage in to get a sale.
The purpose of a sale is to address an underlying need a company or individual person has. It is filling a gap that currently exists by understanding the client’s needs and matching a product or service to that need. Lying to a prospective customer about the features and benefits of your product or service may get you the sale in the short term. But in the long run, you will lose credibility and your ability to do business with that company again.
Many companies and sales people have used fear and intimidation as a tactic to entice a prospect to buy. They make outrageous claims about the harm that will come if they don’t immediately purchase their product. Armstrong used fear and intimidation to silence people around him who knew he was cheating. In the short term, it kept people quiet and the deception to continue. But like in selling, if someone buys a product or service based on fear or intimidation, they will not be a customer for very long.
There are no short cuts in life. Hard work and dedication will allow you to achieve your goals. Cutting corners in athletics or selling will not get you to hit your goals. Lance Armstrong deceived the world by claiming to be something he wasn’t. Bad sales people do this as well. Deceiving a customer in the sales process about a product benefit or the ability of that product to meet their needs is wrong. The job of a sales person is to be a trusted advisor to customers. Our job is to give them as much information as we can to educate them about what it is our service can do for them. It’s not to hide from the truth.
If you want to be a top sales person, don’t be like Lance Armstrong.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.