For a long time I didn't like the idea of being considered a salesperson. I love to help people, but I don't believe in manipulation or sales tactics. When I owned my own business, I did my own prospecting and selling but always saw myself as a helper, not a salesperson. I knew people had choices, and working with me may or may not be a good choice for either of us.

Now that I prospect and sell for someone else's company, I've made a slight shift to my thoughts on sales. The best people in any field always surround themselves with people better than themselves. Every great leader is surrounded by an intelligent, creative and insightful team.

That being said, I've requested the permission of Jeffrey Gitomer (one of my personal favorite experts and authors) to share some important information that applies to facility managers, building owners and salespeople. These are things we have all thought or wanted to say, but many times haven't.

After many years in sales (including some of the toughest territories like Manhattan), Gitomer compiled this list direct from customers on how they wish salespeople would act:

  • Just give me the facts. I don't want a long, drawn-out spiel. After you get to know me a little, get to the point.
  • Tell me the truth, and don't use the word "honestly." It makes me nervous. If you say something I doubt or I know not to be true, you're out.
  • I want an ethical salesperson. Did someone say honest lawyer? Salespeople often get bum raps because of a few without ethics. Your actions will prove your ethics, not your words.
  • Give me a good reason why this product/service is perfect for me. If I need what you're selling, I need to understand how I benefit from buying it.
  • Show me some proof. I'm more likely to buy if you can prove what you say. Show me an article in print reinforcing my confidence or confirming my decision.
  • Show me I'm not alone. Tell me about a similar situation where some like me succeeded. I don't want to be the first or only. I need to know how it has worked elsewhere. I will have a lot more confidence if I know of someone else like me or with the same situation who purchased and likes it or did well with it.
  • Show me a letter from a loyal customer. One testimonial has more strength than 100 presentations.
  • Tell me and show me you will serve me after you sell me. I have bought a lot of empty service promises in the past.
  • Tell me and show me the price is fair. I want reassurance the price I'm paying is fair for what I'm buying. Make me feel like I'm getting a deal.
  • Show me the best way to pay. If I can't afford to pay, but I want what you've got, give me alternatives.
  • Give me a choice and let me decide, but make a consultative recommendation. Tell me what you would honestly do if it was your money.
  • Reinforce my choice. I may be nervous I'll make the wrong choice. Help me reinforce my choice with facts that will benefit me and make me feel more confident to buy.
  • Don't argue with me. Even if I'm wrong, I don't want some smart salesperson telling me (or trying to prove) I am.
  • Don't confuse me. The more complicated it is, the less likely I am to buy.
  • Don't tell me negative things. I want everything to be great.
  • Don't talk down to me. Salespeople think they know everything and think I'm stupid. Don't tell me what you think I want to hear.
  • Don't tell me what I bought or did is wrong. I want to feel smart and good about what I did. Be tactful if I goofed; show me how others goofed, too.
  • Listen to me when I talk. I'm trying to tell you what I want to buy, and you're too busy trying to sell me what you've got. Shut up and listen.
  • Make me feel special. If I’m going to spend my money, I want to feel good about it. It all hinges on your words and actions.
  • Make me laugh. Put me in a good mood, and I'm more likely to buy.
  • Take an interest in what I do. It may not be important to you, but it's everything to me.
  • Be sincere when you tell me things. I can tell if you're being phony just to get my money.
  • Don't use a bunch of time-worn sales ideas to pressure me to buy. Don't sound like a salesman. Sound like a friend. Someone trying to help me.
  • Deliver me what you sell me — when you say you will. If I give you my business and you disappoint me, it's unlikely I'll do business with you again.
  • Help me buy don't sell me. I hate being sold, but I love to buy.

Facility managers, engineers, property managers, CEOs and building owners how many of these can you relate to?

On the flipside, many of the same companies that buy from salespeople also employ salespeople. If you're a buyer, company owner, CEO or purchaser, how do you treat salespeople? Here's how they want to be treated:

  • Return my phone call. The number-one gripe of salespeople, especially if you got the dreaded voicemail. Why can't you take two minutes of your time and return someone's call? Don't you want your call returned?
  • Take my call if you're in. If you screen my call, don't screen me out.
  • Don't have your gatekeeper say, "Mr. Johnson doesn't see anyone without an appointment." At least have the courtesy of telling Mr. Johnson I'm here and giving him the choice.
  • Tell me the truth. I'd rather know the truth than have you string me along or lie about the situation. Have the guts to be truthful. You want it from me, don't you?
  • If you don't decide (or aren't the only decision-maker), tell me and tell me who does. Don't waste my time or yours. I like you, but I want to talk to (all) the decision-makers.
  • Tell me how you feel while I'm presenting. If I'm doing something right or wrong, I want to know so I can help serve you better.
  • Give me your undivided attention during my presentation. No phone calls, people running in and out or reading your mail.
  • Tell me your real objection. If you do, it will help us both. Your true objection will shorten the sales cycle and make us both more productive. You won't hurt my feelings — I really want to know the truth.
  • Do what you say you will do. Example: If you tell me a decision will be made by Wednesday, take my call on the appointed day and tell me the answer. Common courtesy. Do what you say. That's not too much to ask, is it?
  • Don't tell me you want to think about it. I hate that. Tell me the real objection or how you really feel. Admit it — you've already decided.
  • Don't tell me it's not in the budget or you spent your budget for the year. Tell me how you feel about my product or service and if you want to buy it now, next year or never.
  • If you don't have the money and you want to buy, tell me, so I can help you find a way to buy. Don't let pride or ego get in the way of the selling process. Salespeople run into people without money all the time but still want to help.
  • Don't play games. Don't say, "I can get it for $500 less. Will you match the price?" or "I'm going to shop around to see if your deal is the best then I might call you back." Be straight up with me. Put your cards on the table if you want a long-term relationship (like I do).
  • Respect me. Often common courtesy will do more to enhance our relationship than anything.
  • If you must meet with others to get a final decision, let me be there, too. So I can answer questions about my product or service that are sure to arise.
  • Be on time for our appointment. I don't want to wait. It's not fair to appoint me at 10 and take me at 10:30 and say, "I'm sorry. I got tied up."
  • Show up for your appointment. Sometimes you say, "Oh, it's just a salesman. What's the difference?" The difference is common courtesy. Show me you're as dependable as you want me to be.
  • Decide now. You already know the answer. Why don't you just tell me?

Here's the part I really agree with Gitomer on and have said before I read any of his books: "It's amazing to me how simple the sales process would be if buyers (and sellers) just followed one rule. The Golden Rule." It’s really that simple. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

In the world of facilities and building management, I would also include something about the infamous bidding process. If you absolutely must get two or three bids, please make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Don't ask one vendor to do all the legwork for free and then hand it over to someone else to quote you five cents less.

And if someone you've been working with for a while ends up charging more than the new person who just walked in the door, ask yourself, "Am I willing to pay more because I value my relationship with this person/company?" Or, "Why will they suddenly lower their price now when I'm about to switch vendors while they've been charging more all along?"

I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for, but price is always just a portion of the equation. Service, quality, reputation, expertise those things have a true value.

I'd love to hear your opinions, additions and comments.