Sales Motivation Through a Customer’s Eyes


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Who do you want on your sales team? Hunter types with “street smarts,” and a “sales personality?” Salespeople who are motivated, hungry, and assertive? What about aggressive, driven, and relentless? Slobber and drool! How about overbearing, intimidating, and obnoxious? Oops! It’s hard to tell exactly where I strayed into the behavioral red zone. There’s no crisp boundary, and these behaviors don’t easily segregate.

How might a customer view a salesperson possessing this group of attributes? In a blog posted May 10, 2010, a man named JerseyFrank provides a poignant answer:

“My wife and I have been looking to replace our old worn down living room furniture and we went to a local furniture store to check out thier (sic) furniture. The sales person was very loud and obnoxious and made me feel like I could not get a word in. I wanted to leave because my anxiety and depression made it very hard to deal with this salesman. My wife wanted me to stay and although I tried I kept my eye on the exit and found myself planning a quick escape route no matter where we were in this store. I was slowly crumbling and got very quiet when my wife found a living room set she liked and struck up a deal with the salesman. We purchased the set and left the store (finally!). About an hour after we got home my wife changed her mind about the living room set after doing a few measurements and decided it would not fit. Than (sic) she wanted me to call the furniture store back and cancel the order. I tried talking to the salesman over the phone and he was literally yelling at me over the phone. I had enough of his crap and just exploded at him! My wife quickly grabbed the phone and tried to take over and than (sic) things really got ugly between us and thise (sic) salesman. We were told when we made the purchase that we had 48 hours to change out (sic) mind and suddenly this jerk wouldn’t take no for an answer. My wife is going to call the store manager this morning and cancel the deal.

I thought I was feeling better for a while before this shopping adventure but now I feel like this experience has made me feel like I have just taken a HUGE step back in what I thought was progress. Even after a night of sleeping on it I still feel awful.”

While it’s possible to dismiss JerseyFrank‘s experience because we’ve only read his version of the transaction, my heart goes out to him. But . . . was the salesperson “just doing his job?” No matter. JerseyFrank‘s buying experience reeked, and it didn’t have to. Show me a business that doesn’t understand that the customer’s perception is reality, and I’ll show you a business on the road to ruin. As unbelievable as this looks in print, I’ve heard many times “that (customer) is just an idiot, anyway.” Wrong-o! JerseyFrank‘s experience is emblematic of much that is wrong with selling today. It begins with leadership. Even if JerseyFrank‘s salesperson didn’t follow the rules in his manager’s playbook, can someone explain to me why he’s even allowed to work with customers in the first place? Only his boss knows for sure!

Fixing JerseyFrank‘s bad experience—and thousands of similar daily interactions—requires new management thinking. Einstein’s quote is overused, but I’ll plunk it in here anyway because it fits: “We can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that got us there in the first place.” Companies must have customers in order to survive. That hasn’t changed. But if prospects resist interacting with salespeople, there are reasons. Is the solution to continue to hire aggressive, relentless salespeople, jam a large quota down their throats, and reward revenue achievement at any cost? I don’t know, because I’m not sure if the likely behaviors create outcomes like JerseyFrank‘s. I suspect a consistent connection.

Some free advice for the retailer JerseyFrank could have bought from: examine the buying experience from the outside-in, through the eyes of your prospects and customers. Think about that experience. Live it. Build your selling processes to ensure the outcomes your customers require happen over and over. Find salespeople who are passionate about making that experience happen—and who are motivated by the reward. You’ll discover that the salespeople you should hire and retain are different from the ones working for you.


  1. I get such experiences frequently too. Some people don’t just understand that the customer should be king.

  2. The salesperson of yesteryear was aggressive, semi truthful and persistent. And this approach seemed to yield results as well, as regrettably, i have almost been forced to purchase stuff by such people because of their persistence. But personally, I prefer salespersons who are patient and non obtrusive, and give you room to make a decision. I am also much more likely to make a purchase in this case. Just as the commenter you mentioned, if I see salespersons surrounding me in a store, i quickly chart an escape route.


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