What makes good selling?
I hope you have been there either on the sending or receiving end. Where everything you say and do fits perfectly with what is being offered. As a salesperson, I hope you know what I am writing about. You sit down in person or over the phone and you instantly click with the person you are talking with. Your actions are smooth and easy and the person on the other end is taking it all in and responding well to what you are saying. Your interactions are not guarded and you get to the moment of truth when you ask your first check in close… “Well, what do you think… is this something that you would be interested in?” There is no pause from the person you are presenting to and they say, “Absolutely!!!! This is exactly what I am looking for!!!”
I remember the first time I got that answer. I was fresh out of college, 24 years old, looking like I was all of 17. I had just gotten off of what I like to call “verbatim” sales training where my manager, who had no interest or desire in being a manager, had given me a flip chart with words printed on the back. He promised me that if I just say the words like they were written I would “make a sale”. I put, make a sale in quotes because nothing was further from the truth. Up to that point I had made nothing. No money, no progress, no self-esteem and I was nowhere close to “making a sale”. The notion of making a sale was foreign to me. I don’t know what it was, maybe the couple had pity on me or were just desperate, but when I asked if it was something they wanted to do… the husband looked at his wife and they did that kind of half nod to each other and he looked back at me and said, “Yes, it is”.
Because my manager was at a bar on this call, his wife was going to have a baby soon, so he said that he was going to skip my call to do some drinking (I don’t really know where the logic was in that, but he had somehow worked it all out as a good excuse), I was prepared for a lot of things. Before we left the office and I went on the call he had prepared me for what to do if they said they wanted to think it over. He had prepared me on what to do if they couldn’t decide. He had also briefed me on a flat-out no, but he had not and I was not ready for, “Yes, it is”. I know I must have sat there for only a few seconds, but it seemed like days. I have always been quick on my feet and ready with some kind of come back or phrase for the situation, but nothing. I stuttered and from the look on their faces I must have had some kind of expression followed by an array of white, pink and red. The only thing I could think to say was, “well, I don’t really know what to do. I would like to go find out and come back tomorrow to let you know.”
No You Didn’t
I went directly home and tried to call my manager at his home. Ok, that was a real bad idea. If you remember he left his pregnant wife at home to go do some drinking and you could imagine her surprise when I asked her if she knew where her husband was. Her simple reply was, “I thought he was with you.” I told her he was earlier in the day. Then I pause and made the situation much worse when I asked her if she knew what bar he typically frequented. Then I said, “Hello? Hello?” The next day at the office was no fun either. I didn’t go back to the couple’s home, I was too ashamed. I had messed everything up and was wondering if this selling thing was for me. I had no skills, no abilities, no training and no real life experience to draw from. The only thing I had was what one of my mentors called the confidence that come with not know what you are doing. My wife has another way of saying it, “I was sure full of myself”. I was.
Make The Sales?
With no skills, abilities, training or experience I had no possibility of “making a sales”. For the first few years of my selling life there was not one sale that I made… I was just there writing up the order. I was more or less in the way and a sales happened. Woody Allen was right when he said that 80% of success was just showing up. That’s all I had going or me. Now it’s different. There is a sense that comes with selling that I am able to see the entire field. Better with my skills, abilities, training and experience and add to that a strong pipeline (for those of you that are unfamiliar with a pipeline, it is the prospective opportunities you are working. A pipeline is your number one asset in selling) I am in a position to help people make a good decision and if they are not a fit for what I offer, I let them know early.
So what is good selling? It is the ability to know your customer’s wants, needs and desires before they know them. It is the skill of navigating people and companies to the betterment of those people and those companies. It is training yourself on people skill and not manipulative selling skills and having the experience to knowing where to get the experience to get a round peg in a round hole. That’s what good selling is.
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