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Three simple steps on how to handle a salesman.

I have been in sales now for over 13 years and done plenty of selling.  I have read books on sales, and marketing and the psychology behind how people make buying decisions.   I have also been a consumer my entire life so does this make me an authority on sales?  I don’t know.  I do have some thoughts on the subject though.

Everyone knows people in sales get a bad rap.  People think salespeople are pushy, they will sell you the wrong product for higher commissions, they won’t leave you alone, etc.  Car salesman have the worst reputation because the entire process seems like this cloak and dagger operation to see how much they can sell the car for.  It’s like this game of financial chicken.  I hate buying cars.  It isn’t fun for me to spend two hours watching a guy go back and forth like he’s talking to the almighty Oz and deciding if I am worthy of the best price.

Some people love it.  It’s a big game and they are willing to play it.  I think the process is entirely outdated and in this day and age of big data, there should be no secret on what the price of a damn car is.  But I digress.


The first rule I have is to get a referral to a trusted source.   The last car I bought, I was referred to a guy who I was told would do the best job for me.  I went in, picked a car, and told him, “Just give me the best price you can, I trust you”.  I swear, he still had to go back and forth twice just because that is how the process worked but he got me what I had to believe was the best deal for that car.

I would suggest you get referrals for important purchases and things that are going to be in your life for a long time if not forever.  People like, realtors, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, accountants, lawyers, financial service providers, car dealers, hairstylists, electricians, plumbers, and roofers.

When you meet with these people, tell them you were referred to them and by whom.  There is an instant connection that gets made at this moment and the professional is more apt to give you the best service.  You see, referrals are the lifeblood of a person in sales.  NOTHING is better than getting a referral and it is the highest compliment you can get.  All of the sudden the salesperson isn’t just working for you, but they want to prove to the referral source, that they can take care of you so they can continue to gain referrals.  Good salespeople work very hard to build referral networks.

Number two. When possible, state your goals on what you are trying to achieve. Let the salesperson know you are looking to save some money, get better service or upgrading a product.  If you are trying to save money, tell them what you are paying currently.

I have people come to me all the time and ask for a quote on insurance and I ask them what they are paying and they won’t tell me.  “Just give me your best price”, they tell me.  This doesn’t really help anyone.  Many of my products have one price and I have ZERO influence on the price.  Health insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance with any company, is priced the way it is and the agents can’t change it.  We can change the coverage and deductible to influence the price but a good agent won’t sacrifice proper coverage to bring the price down.

If they give me what they are paying, I will quote up a comparison and see how it all falls.  I give a full review of their policy, make sure they have proper coverage, and if they do, they get an apples to apples price comparison.  If they are currently underinsured, we go over that and discuss what it will take to bring their coverage up.

If I have a potential buyer and they tell me that they are paying $50 a month for great coverage and I come in at $90 a month for the same coverage, I am not going to waste their time or my time.  I will tell them flat out that they have a great deal and we will take a look at it again in 6 months.

The third thing I would encourage you to do, is be upfront with the salesperson on your timeline.  If you plan on buying today, let them know.  If you are just in the research phase, and aren’t going to buy for 3 months, let them know that.

Salespeople are hardwired to make a sale.  It is how we make a living.  It is how we make money.  If someone comes to me and asks for my help and advice, I am going to work hard to earn their business.  The thing that bothers me the most, is when someone comes to me with a need and I fill the exact need they asked me to fill.  Then they disappear.

I have had active clients who ask me for a quote on a line of insurance because they need it.  I research it, quote it, sit down with them, explain it to them.  Afterword they need some time to think it over.  That’s fine. I ask permission to follow up with them on a certain time and date.  They agree.  Then this happens:

I place the follow up phone call and leave a nice message.

They don’t call back.

I send an email in two days making sure they got my message.

They don’t reply.

I call in two more days and leave another message.

They don’t call back.

I send a follow up email.

They don’t respond.

I call in a week and leave a message.

They don’t call back.

I send another email three days later.

They don’t respond.  It’s maddening.

Good salesman are trained to follow up.  Good salesman and told that you have to ask 7 times to get a sale.  It’s a tough job.  If you are looking at your phone and it is a salesman following up with you because he is doing something you asked them to do, have the courtesy to tell them “no thank you”, or “I’m not ready right now, call me in the Spring”.  Both sides will be relieved.  The salesperson won’t have to chase you anymore, and you don’t have to feel bad about avoiding them.

That’s it.  The buying process doesn’t have to be this big event.  Find a trusted referral, be honest on what your goals are (saving money, upgrading your product), and give a timeline.  It will made the process much easier for all parties involved.

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