Being Nice Pays In Sales!


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I’ve been around awhile. I started my selling career in 1987 canvassing door to door selling credit card authorization systems to any business who accepted Visa or Mastercard. I’m afraid to count the number of sales conversations and business meetings I have been a part of, well into the thousands I’m sure.

In my experience I have found that the people I have engaged with fall into two general categories. Those who are nice and those who are not so nice. I won’t try to guess as to why someone chooses to conduct themselves in one way or another, as I’m sure you might have your own opinions. What I will say however, is it’s a lot more fun and professionally fulfilling to work with people who fall into the former category.

Don’t misunderstand, I fully realize the business world is not for the faint of heart. It’s a rough and tumble environment where the smartest, hardest working, most innovative companies thrive. It’s what I love about sales and business.

That being said, I firmly believe you can be honest, respectful, and yes, nice, and still be highly successful. We hear the stories of the ruthless, cutthroat business people who attain great levels of “success”, and might think thats what it takes. Remember the movie Wall Street? Anyway, I don’t buy it. Over the years I have worked with and sold to both, and can say without a doubt you can have it all.

About three years into our ten year history we closed a deal with a CEO of a startup company, who, let’s say fell into the not so nice camp. He was a bit combative with our sales guy from the very start. In a rather condescending way, he requested to deal directly with me. Apparently he, as a CEO, was above dealing with a mere Account Executive. So, of course, whatever its takes to make the prospect happy. We met, and finally after a rather difficult sales process closed the deal. I should have known, if he was difficult in the “honeymoon” stage things would only get worse.

His expectations changed from the reasonable ones that we agreed to in our initial discussions, and in the contract, to completely unreasonable. He was unappreciative, condescending, and bordering on abusive to the team. All while we were delivering at or above the levels we had agreed to.

This turned out to be a valuable learning opportunity, and a turning point for our company. I called him one sunny October afternoon and politely fired him. He was shocked. He did not understand, he was happy with our results and seeing great value. Yes, I’m sure you are I replied. However my team just does not like working with you, and quite frankly my teams happiness is more important than a few more dollars in revenue.

Our corporate philosophy since has been one where we seek relationships where there is a mutual respect. Sure, we work for our customers, but that does not mean we are not equal professionally. As a result of parting ways from those prospects and customers who “are not a fit”, we have created an environment where our employees are happier and more productive. I realized the 80/20 rule applied here. 80% of our headaches came from 20% of our prospects & customers. Eliminating that 20% actually added to our bottom line. All the while making life a little more pleasant for all involved. So, don’t believe those nay sayers, you can have it all and nice guys can finish first!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Paul Alves
Paul is Co-Founder of AGSalesworks and current CEO. Proven Sales Professional and Entrepreneur, working with both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies.


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