Sell IT Your Way – Authentically

A while back I listened to a young woman who is what I consider a gentle soul.  There is an honesty about her that is sincere; she is genuinely a very caring individual.  She asked a hardcore seller, “How do you do it?  How do you get all of these clients to buy?”  He lifts his head so his jaw line is parallel to the floor, brings his relaxed shoulders to attention, takes in deep breath, and from his barstool he confidently replies, “I tell ‘em if they’re not serious about what I have to offer that I don’t have time for them.  You’d be amazed how many people say, ‘tell me more’.”  She was impressed and eager to learn his technique.  For me, personally, if a sales person said that to me, my next words would be “bye-bye.”  If he doesn’t have time to fulfill my curiosity in the initial conversation, odds are he won’t be around for customer service after the sale if I need help.  But then again, it’s his technique. 

On a one particular sales blitz, I left behind a tearful client who was brow-beaten by one of my management team.  Sad, but I would go so far to say it was an emotional blood-bath.  Later that evening I went back to the storeowner, apologized, and promised I would never bring the ‘boss’ across her threshold.  She was traumatized by the cruelty of the hard-core selling tactic all because she firmly held her ground and said “No” to a promotion she didn’t feel would be beneficial in marketing her business.   I lost a good client that day.    

It’s no secret, I have been in sales for a long time and I am really good at it when I am allowed to sell my way.  Not the boss’ way.  Not the corporation’s way.  Not the latest and greatest way.  I succeed when I am doing it my way.  That’s the key – my way.  The way I feel most comfortable doing it.  First of all I have to believe in the product.  I am not a manipulator who can sell ice to an Eskimo for the simple reason I would be asking – why in the hell would an Eskimo want more ice?  A heater, yes.  Ice, no.

When I first was introduced to the profession of being an advertising representative for a local media, I had the friends who would literally cross the street when they saw me coming.  They would duck into a storefront if I made eye contact with them or they’d pretend they didn’t see me.  One day, I approached one of tuck-n-hides and flat out asked, “Did I do something to make you angry with me?  Why are you avoiding me?”  [Let me interject something important to help you better understand the point I wish to make: I was going through a divorce, my life was in turmoil and lots of really nasty rumors where being whispered around the community about me.  I took their tuck-n-hides very personally and wondered if the divorce ruined my life.]  A woman who’s about my age, and is one of those tell-it-like-it-is kind of gals, said, “It’s not you, it’s the company you work for.  I won’t advertise with them.”  Long story shortened, she didn’t like the previous salesperson.  It wasn’t me or the product.  With a consistent schedule and offering only the promotions suited to her business, I eventually signed her up. 

There a million and ten books, trillions of how-to videos online, and speakers galore.  Listen, learn, read, soak up what resonates with you.  Each of us is unique.  There is not a right way, nor a wrong way to sell…just your way.   Set goals.  Write out the target lists.  Repeat your affirmations daily.  Figure out your weaknesses and your strengths.   Please, please follow your heart and be authentic.  

Not a Salesperson?

Sales People.  Eh…  They come in all shapes, sizes and colorful personalities.  The overbearing soccer mom who is peddling the latest and greatest fad product demanding a commitment to join her and the gals for some kind of women’s only party on Tuesday evening you have no intention of attending.  The man with his slicked back hair exposing a thick-link chain necklace from the collar opening hoping to draw your attention to his longhorn belt buckle while wearing his Sunday-best dark brown polyester suit while standing next to a 1970-something muscle car.  The lil’ ol’ granny wiping her arthritic hands on a flour-dusted floral apron baking Dutch apple pies in her commercial kitchen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.  The meek friend you haven’t seen in months standing in the grocery aisle praising, “Look at what this product has done for me.  I feel fabulous!”

The thing about sales – we all do it whether or not we want to admit it.  People will protest, “Oh, but I’m not a sales person.  I couldn’t sell water to a parched desert dweller.”  Those are the individuals I find most enjoyable to listen to as they describe the item they truly believe in.  Watch ’em as they light up.  They know the product and/or service.  They believe in it and recommend it for various reasons.  Without realizing it, they are a walking, talking billboard.

If you are interested in learning about sales or developing more skills, I suggest people watching.  Go to the big box stores and listen to the pre-scripted pitch they use on customers.  Attend art fairs and listen; do the artist share their passion for their craft or are they hard-selling their item.  Sit down in a small café and listen to the owner behind the counter describe her lunch specials.  Be an observer; take notes.  How do you respond to their tactics?  Can you confidently approach potential customers the same way?

We are all sales people whether or not we want to admit it.