Sometimes not selling is the best way to sell. Instead of forcing your sales targets to focus on what you are selling, it is often better to cleverly divert their attention to something they want to talk about. If at all possible, being a friend is much more effective in sales than being an aggressive sales rep for your company. Ultimately, how well you sell yourself is much more important than how you sell your product or service.
What We Don’t Want
Of course, we all know that the “chemistry” has to be right. How many times in my early career was I required to take the stage in a “hostile” environment? What am I talking about? I’m talking about having to approach the sales manager at a large automobile dealership in my city, for example, to ask him to consider buying a service from me – in this case, an opportunity to advertise in a regional magazine. This would mean asking him to spend money with me for which he would demand guaranteed results. He would be curt, barely civil, sometimes insulting and usually demeaning in his reception to me. I would feel like I was asked to grovel on my stomach to be granted the privilege of his brief attention to my request. As a woman, a business person, a human being, I would feel violated and swear to never put myself in that situation again. It’s not worth it, I would say to myself.
Was I Naive?
Did I understand that he was under a lot of pressure from his superiors to achieve optimum results while keeping profits at a maximum? Of course! Did I understand that I was interrupting him during his busy, highly stressful day to timidly, and probably amateurishly, present him with my offer? Undoubtedly.
But every sales initiative can feel this way, although luckily all are not this belittling. In fact, some situations can be much more benevolent, even welcoming and appreciative. After all, your role as sales rep for your company is to offer help. While salespeople may suffer the indignities of an unearned reputation for being swindlers and crooks, certainly the vast majority are just honest, hardworking people trying to make a living. Like you and me, right?
The Secret To Good Salesmanship
While cast in that role, my life as a salesperson was not one I enjoyed. Fast forward to the present. Somehow, my life has changed dramatically, yet sales still figure into my reality, but from a completely different perspective. No longer do I need to make cold calls in person to try to sell my wares. With the advent of the Internet, a lot has changed over the years. It is much more common for me to “sell” via email. But the truth of the matter is I really don’t try to sell at all anymore. Rather, I relate to people I do business with in the subtlest of ways so they don’t even know I’ve delivered a sales pitch. I am neither deceptive nor disingenuous. My attitude is one of constructive guidance, to politely offer them my experience and expertise to improve their quest for business success. There is always intrinsic value in what I tell them which is never dependent on their buying something from me. To be perfectly frank, I never want anyone to proceed with a sale unless they are convinced they really want to do so. If they do not see that it will help them, then they shouldn’t buy it.
How I Reward My Present Customers
As everyone knows, your best customer is your present customer. I know that better than anyone since I am constantly flooded with business from my present customers. But I certainly help the cause along by doing nice things for them every chance I get. I’m not talking about giving candy or sending flowers or taking them out to dinner. Granted, that would be nice, but that’s not my style at all. I’m quite reclusive and definitely a workaholic, so I hardly ever get out socially, to be completely honest. Instead, I do nice things for them like not charging them for an emergency service they really needed, one which didn’t cost me anything except my time and effort. Or, writing a letter on their behalf to bring them more business without their even asking me to do so and again not charging them. Or tweaking their search engine optimization so their websites rank highly in Google searches and never even tell them I do so. Recently, I devoted several days to addressing ways to circumvent Flash files on some of my clients’ websites in case someone’s mobile unit could not receive Flash. These are things I should be charging for but could never convince some of these clients they need such services so I do them for free. I’m not looking for gratitude. I am more concerned that they be pleased that their websites are working for them and bringing them consistent sales. That is something they can understand. Am I defeating my own cause by not bringing all of these things to their attention, in case one of my competition tries to lure them away from me? Maybe. But I trust in the core relationships we have as human beings working together which is what I referred to earlier in this discussion as “chemistry.” I really like my clients and I want them to know it.
What They Need and What I Give
In addition, I help some of my older clients all the time with their online PayPal accounts, for instance, which they have trouble logging into, finding what they need and transferring their funds. If that sounds a little shady, it isn’t. They trust me to help them and I bend over backwards to earn their trust. While on the phone, we both log in to their account and I show them their account balances and help them through the processes to transfer funds or raise their monthly limits. I show them their online sales and discuss where those sales have come from by sharing statistics I get from Google Analytics.
These gestures all take lots of my time and I am generous sometimes to the point of excess. But, the rewards I reap far outweigh the time I spend in helping them. Since I am usually light years ahead of them in online savvy, I am confident they appreciate my efforts and will continue to rely on me as we move forward.
The Hardest Sales Jobs Still Haunt Me
Still, I am not exempt from needing to make phone calls to sell advertising for some clients I represent. This is not an easy job and never has been. Today, in this economically challenged environment, it is probably one of the hardest things a salesman has to do. No one likes to be rejected and failure is hard to swallow. Fortunately, as we gain in age and experience, we learn to approach tasks like these in more creative ways.
One of these advertising sales jobs occurs once a year so I don’t often have to bother contacts I have made in the past. But, when I do, they respond favorably to my friendly tone as I remind them of something we shared in the past, whether it’s commiserating about how much worse things were last year, or how nice it was to see customers responding to an ad they had placed. I always give them the opportunity to gracefully bow out if they are so inclined. High pressure is not my modus operandi. I’d rather they welcome my calls than dread talking to me for fear I’m going to embarrass them into fabricating an excuse for declining. There have been cases when I would speak to a prospect once a year, laughing about some subject we took pleasure in only to walk away without any new business at all, but be satisfied that the relationship had matured just a little bit more and perhaps with the next attempt, I’d see a positive result. Actually, it mattered more that I had achieved a good rapport with someone I had never met in person and only speak to once a year under the adverse conditions of asking them to spend money in a bad economy. This gave me good mental ammunition for the next phone challenge on my list. Being in a good mood with lots of confidence sometimes is half the battle. And believe it or not, some people react well to a refreshing break in their day.
The Ultimate Route To Sales Success
First and foremost, whether you are selling something for the first time to a new person you have never spoken to before, your biggest objective is to make a very good first impression in order to build a long and fruitful relationship. If you keep that in mind with every new phone call, you will find someone on the other end who recognizes your sincerity, your good intentions and your ultimate value. And if at the end of the day you have nothing to show for it, then there’s always tomorrow to try, try again.
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