14 Mar 2017

Sales Tips: A Perceived Conflict of Interest

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

14 Mar 2017

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

sales tips for handling misconceptions of salespeopleThroughout my sales career I enjoyed the privilege and benefit of working with many support people that were extraordinary in doing their jobs. It never ceased to amaze me how they could make suggestions and buyers would follow their advice. At the time I realized it had to do with the roles of sellers and support people, but looking back it goes further than that.

On the flip side of those SE’s, one company I sold for had just hired a tech support person from a customer environment. I had an account that was encountering throughput issues with their mainframe and needed an SE to assess the problem and suggest alternatives. On the way to the account, the new SE asked what I wanted to sell the account and what he should say. To his surprise I said:

“Paul, I want you to make an honest assessment of the problem and to make a recommendation if we have an offering that can address their performance issues.”

I was astonished that Paul was astonished by my request. His reaction spoke volumes about his perception of salespeople.

What I failed to realize years ago was the elephant in the room:


Money, commission and careers are at stake when working on opportunities. Few sellers can (and managers don’t want sellers that do) live off their base salaries. They must earn commissions. This is an underlying reason that buyers are leery of salespeople, especially ones they’ve not done business with before. Buyers may be asking themselves:

Is this salesperson trying to do the right thing by me or is his/her primary interest commission and quota achievement?


The ultimate irony of support person credibility with buyers is that many organizations base raises, promotions and recognition for support people upon their involvement in significant wins. Ultimately, the title on a person’s business card goes a long way toward determining how much trust buyers will have in their recommendations.

This is the baggage salespeople deal with when selling is viewed in the traditional manner as convincing, persuading and overcoming objections by buyers who feel at times they’ve been mislead or oversold.

Customer-centric sellers that focus on empowering buyer to achieve desired business outcomes and value stand a far greater chance of having buyers believe their recommendations.

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