Sales – The “S” Word
“Of course you sell candidates for political office the same way you sell soap or sealing wax or whatever; because, when you get right down to it, that’s the only way anything is sold.”
Sid BernsteinOne of the oldest, if not the oldest professions on the planet is also one of the most feared and negatively perceived. “Sales”, though recognized by most as a necessity in all businesses is viewed as a negative. I’m sure you can think of a time when a sales person stalked you around the sales floor of a telemarketer who called and called reading from the same script every time. These are the “sales” people that give us all a bad name. I understand that they have quotas to make and are doing everything they can, but there is a better way.
Let’s take a look at the concept of sales, really examine what it is. In our society today, sales has taken on this dirty connotation, again, I can attribute this to the pushy, harassing, egotistical sharks from film and media. Robin Williams’ character from the movie “Cadillac Man” comes to mind; a shady, womanizing car salesman, willing to do whatever it takes to move the next car out the door, he was even able to sell a crazy gunman, Tim Robbins, into giving himself up to the police. Though entertaining and though it makes my top 10 list of sales movies of all time, this representation of the sales person makes it that much harder for a real life sales person to gain the trust of potential clients. What do you think about sales and salespeople?
I have heard, more times than I can count, people tell me; “I can’t sell, I’m not a sales person.” Or “I don’t like doing sales; I don’t like pushing people into buying things.” I am here to share with you the number one secret to sales, the magic concept that people need to recognize in order to be successful, here it is, ready? You ARE a sales person! Everyone on the planet today is a sales person. That’s it, simple right? Don’t believe me? Let’s examine; what is “sales”? The sales process can be broken down into 3 key steps. Throughout history, many “experts”, including myself, have changed the labels and packaging, but the basic concepts have been around since the dawn of time. 1) Build a rapport with your client – Simple; get to know your client so you know what to offer them. 2) Present and close the sale – if you want them to buy they have to know what the product is. 3) Counter any objections they may have – one of the hardest parts of the sale but essential to the process. That’s it, 1, 2, 3. Throughout this book I will explore and explain how to WIN in more detail but for the sake of this argument, let’s just focus on these 3 things. I told you that everyone is a sales person and it’s true. People who choose not to acknowledge this usually do so because of the negative perception around sales. They choose not to sell because they don’t want to, not because they can’t, as a sales manager trying to curb the beliefs of your sales people, or as a sales person trying to help yourself, you have to recognize that we sell everyday of our lives. Overtime we have a disagreement with our spouse we know our audience/client, present ideas and solutions to resolve the disagreement and try to overcome any objections they have. If you are single and are trying to meet someone new; you get to know who you are talking to, present yourself and your benefits to that person in an attempt to close the sale and get their number, or more, all the time overcoming any objections/obstacles you encounter. Not a romantic? Every job interview you go to, that’s a sale, you are selling yourself. Every time you teach someone something, you are selling an idea. Every time you can’t get your little one to eat their veggies, that’s a sale too!
Believe me yet? Easier said than done, I know. We have a deep rooted stigma attached to sales and if we, as sales people, feel this stigma, how do our clients feel? Not only do we need to curb our own thoughts, but we need to help our clients realize that sales does not have to be a trip to the used car dealers, it can, and should, be a positive experience for everyone involved.
There are 4 easy concepts you need to remember to help alleviate your own case of “sales stigma”. The first, remember, everyone is a sales person in their own way. Second; recognize that sales is an absolute in all companies in all industries. It does not matter if your company makes dog collars, paper aeroplanes or publishes blog artical by know it all sales gurus, somewhere, there is a sales person bringing in new clients and trying to keep the old ones. Third, recognize that we all buy things, a seemingly simple concept but essential, sales people exist because people buy, you are not doing anyone a disservice by offering them a product. If they really did not want to buy they would not have called you, walked into your store or answered the phone in the first place. Last but far from least, if you have a “sales stigma”, remember, all of those Hollywood and boiler room sales people CHOOSE to be aggressive and push products, you can make the choice to WIN through positive client relationships, you can make the choice to help people and you can make the choice to help change the view of society towards sales people everywhere. Who do you want to be?