Selling and I always have a love hate relationship. Since the time I started working those ever smiling faces of salesmen have amused me.
I always wanted to taste the salt of the hardship and so I finally got my share when I started my career in sales after finishing management school. Over my work years as a saleswoman I realized that sales is like Mumbai – either you love it or hate it! (for those not from Mumbai please ask about this to any of your Mumbaikar friends and they will tell the tales!). There are no shades of grey in your love for this profession! I have met varieties of fellow sales professionals, some who cribbed about targets over a puff of cigarette or a sip of chai (tea) at a tapri (don’t know the origination of this word but refers to small tea stalls found in every nook and corner of India, and they serve one of the best tea in the world). And then there were some who used to be so kicked about every next project that they looked like a rocket on fire! My experience in sales was full of emotions – dejection, exhilaration, depression, joy and oodles of adrenaline rush!
But the lessons I have learnt as a saleswoman, left a far wider effect than I expected out of it and still remain valid even when I am no more directly connected to the profession (I shifted to marketing for my own reasons). Today I want to share some of these lessons, which many of us most of the times ignore, under the daily work pressures to achieve never ending targets. These learning’s do not claim to make you the star sales professional but would certainly add to your credentials to be competent (does not matter which profession you are in unless you mean work not involving people). Many a times we are taught exactly opposite of these below 10 pointers, but that path I believe never leads to sustainable success. While you read the 10 pointers assume “customer” as anybody with whom you mean business/work and “selling” as anything – product/idea/service et al.
- Fake promises – I love the universal saying that a strong structure cannot be built on a weak foundation. A fake promise is very short lived. Someday or the other your customer might discover what you have been trying to hide and that day you lose not only your business but your hard earned reputation too. At times under pressure to achieve our targets we sell sweeping the dust under the carpet but we forget that the dust is still there. Try and avoid this sweet temptation, it would be a honeymoon in the beginning but this spiral leads to death.
- You don’t love what you are selling – if you are not convinced that what you are selling is worth anyone’s money how will you convince someone else to buy it? Ask yourself the question first, does this product/service make someone’s life better? If the answer is yes you know you have already made your first sale!
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- Walk that extra mile– how did you feel when your hotel ironed your shirt but stitched that broken button too? Or weren’t you exhilarated when the retail store gave you free ice cream coupons with your weekly grocery shopping? These are small gestures but it makes people feel special and gains you a loyal customer for life. Ask for a reference or an early appointment next time and rest assured you will get one. Send a note, wish the customer on his/her special day, when they buy your product or service give them something complimentary that would really be useful to them (don’t do something or give something that you know holds no value). The gesture has to be pure, genuine.
- If they cannot afford, do not sell– how would you feel if someone strips you off your money on a spend decision that you would regret for life? How did you feel about the person who compelled you to take that decision? (Once I felt like punching a vacuum cleaner salesman who fooled me into buying a machine I never wanted and never used). Enter, Bad word of mouth? Sell hard but do not push- sell. There is a thin line when your desire to close that sale/deal overpowers the customer’s desire to buy it.
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- Do your homework –Every detail you know about your prospect takes you a step closer to understand him/her better and hence find out how your solution can make his/her life better. Note or observe every detail that comes across your way, you would be pleasantly surprised to see the output.
- Cracking the tough nut – Go for that tough customer once a while it would drain you but the effort would be worth every drop of your sweat. Its gives you a kick and trust me a hard one!
- Avoid vegetation– Many of us often get so bogged down by our targets/goals that we ignore the larger picture and that’s the end of our development as a professional. Keep yourself updated with industry trends, company’s larger goals and objectives. Be collaborative, get involved with cross functional teams, and help someone with their business. Expand your horizon and you would be amazed to see what you unfold!
- Punctuality– there are several champions of this subject. And it would be a cliché to say that always be on time. If you do not like waiting for people, so do others. Treat others’ time the way you would treat yours
- Be humble– you might be a genius, a super salesman, a wonderful writer, an extremely successful businessman but if you let your success rule your attitude you are digging your own grave. No one cares for a bad attitude and an inflated ego
- Network –here I would borrow a line my brother posted on facebook recently “if you haven’t networked, you haven’t worked”. No matter the expertise if you do not have the right contacts. Do not work in “silos”- reach out to people, communicate, lend a helping hand. Networking is a boomerang it always comes back to serve your purpose.
Do you have your share of lessons? Is there a rule you swear by when you deal with people for business everyday? Please share it here and I would love to add more pointers to my 10-something list 🙂