Posts Tagged ‘salespeople’

Buying apartments in Hong Kong is almost like shopping for groceries in the territory.  There is no advance appointment required, no checking on your credit, needs or even your affordability.  Just last Saturday I accompanied a friend to visit a property agency as walk-in customers, and within minutes, we were led to inspect a few open houses in the area.

Aside from the apartments being inspected, I paid some close attention to the realtor who served us.  I am quite impressed with her handling skills and I could relate a bit of what characteristics she possesses that are actually universal across industries, as salesperson.

1. Listening Skills

Hong Kong people are notoriously impatient and none of us would spend the time to answer a long list of questions of why we want what we want.  In order not to offend us, she decided to take the time during the inspections to figure out what we were focusing on.  We were looking for apartments that are elderly friendly, easily accessible and managed by a respected management firm.  She knew from our conversations that we weren’t particularly picky on views and club facilities.  This saved us a lot of time.

2. No Nonsense

I despise realtors who make false conclusions or assumptions about the neighborhood, resale value or interior design.  I know this is a very subjective matter particularly of the latter, but smart realtors would shut up and take the time to listen and define what kind of customers we are.  My theory is that unless you are an absolute genius about a topic or the neighborhood you are showing me, do not make generalizing statements or smart ass comments.  Your credibility is barely hanging by a piece of thread.  Our realtor this time around is a no nonsense kind of person.  She provided us with the facts and shut up.  When we raised standard questions about flat sizes, layout and facilities, she could download like a computer.  I like this type of realtors.  She is someone I could count on.

3. Reading People

A good salesperson should always master how to read people and characters.   Without asking specific questions, good salespeople can gauge customers by their education level, lifestyle and etiquette by many obvious traits.  Of course it can’t be all that accurate all the time, but I can always use this simple test to filter out those who won’t get my business.  They could tell whether you will be a potential long-term customer with return businesses.  Similarly, they know whether you are wasting their time.  While treatment appears to be identical on the surface, there are a few subtle handling differences.  In addition, some bad realtors can’t seem to take clues.  They keep babbling on and on regardless of my reactions, on top of using a few scare tactics.  To me, this type of salesmanship skills is so behind the times.

4. Tough

Ok, I know it’s a rather broad term, but we all need to keep ourselves physically fit for the jobs we do.   Last Saturday, we walked up and down the hill a few times and it is harder than it seems, particularly in Hong Kong’s humidity.

5. Follow-through

Finally, we all know how frustrating that is when someone doesn’t follow through promises or every bit of details that you depend upon them.  I have my share of complaints with bank relationship managers and headhunters, for example. 

Well well, I think I just figured out what I will write later!

Read Full Post »

On Measure Me This, one of the many measurements of procurement people is how much cost savings we can bring to the company.  Another common scorecard item is how much of the overall spend we get ourselves involved in.  It would make us redundant if we deliver fantastic results but over a very small fraction of the entire spend is unaddressed.   There  is of course a distinction of in-scope or out-scope spend as identified in almost every procurement policy in most established global companies, but we as strategic procurement professionals always strive to push that boundary further.

The key is whether we can add value.  There is no point of getting involved in things that we will only drag down the process.

If we are convinced there are value-adds to bring to the table, we need to bring our strategies, similar successful case studies, potential solutions as well as our execution plans and knock on our internal customers’ doors.  That is very much like a salesperson. 

I recently came across an article on CPO Agenda (CPO stands for Chief Procurement Officers, an executive role that is gaining prominence over the last decade), “Face it, we are salespeople” by Paul Snell, which includes a quote from Roy Anderson, CPO of financial services firm State Street.

“… the ability to implement change was primarily down to the staff you employed.  Do you have people in your organization who are intelligent enough and confident enough to drive change and can be the authority in that category?…”

“… do your staff have the skills to explain change and innovation throughout the business?  They might be a great negotiator or market analyst, but for this, they needed to communicate and sell.  Face it, we are salespeople.  Procurement is definitely long gone.  We sell concepts to internal customers, we sell to our supplier base to be more innovative in their solution set and we sell to the internal customers to explain what the changes need to be…”

Personally and especially in this part of the region, I am seeing very few procurement professionals who do this well.  They are either too boxed-in to their comfort zones of negotiating and bidding, or way too customer oriented that they end up being “corporate servants” which they do not deserve to be.  Striking the balance is a lot harder than it looks, and therefore whenever I hire in my specific area of strategic procurement, I look for these soft skills which are much harder to be groomed comparing to product knowledge or negotiation techniques.

If you are interested, more of Paul Snell’s articles can be found on his blog

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: