I suppose I first learnt the art of sales from Bob-a-Job week, from there I started my own car washing business – me with bucket and sponge in hand, knocking on neighbour’s doors and offering to wash their cars; in time I developed a price list based on size of car and size of house. I progressed from picking strawberries in a field, to selling strawberries from a stall, then on to working at the coolest clothes shop in South Manchester… Jack Price owned and run by Mr Jack Price. An elderly gentleman with two sons, two shops, one market stall and a life time in selling – he taught me about people’s habits and behaviours; that years later would be formalised when I joined Procter and Gamble – a leading school in the profession of sales.
35 years on and I’m still refreshing my sales practices by attending seminars and events hosted by sales professionals like Phil Hesketh, Gavin Ingham, Lee Lawson and Steve Edge.
Because I’m aware that the world is changing and increasingly becoming a world of cyber interactions, screens, clicks, videos, sound-bites, and elevator pitches. What used to be done face to face is now done in cyber space, especially when people are looking for low cost and convenience. The demographic of the audience (and buyers) may have changed, the rules may have changed but the sales basics of meeting needs has not! Particularly for products and services that cannot be easily supplied over the internet.
And yet so many business owners and managers, ignore the sales basics when recruiting sales people or moving internal people into sales positions. Opting for the quick fix, the easiest option, the cheapest option, industry knowledge, company experience etcetera etcetera.
Now those of you who know me (even a little) will know I enjoy straw polls – they are a great way of getting people to share their views and opinions; and I’ve taken to asking people at events the question, “What made you decide to come here today?”
At one event I discovered that many of those there, were ONE attending on the instruction of their Boss and TWO had recently moved into sales from other disciplines: a retired accountant that had been recruited as a business sales development manager, a creative agency director was now out on the road as a sales account manager, one after 23 years in the national health service was now an advertising sales executive, and an architect who recognised that he was a designer not salesman, was now a salesman.
Pause for Thought… desperate times require desperate measures… NOT SO they require measured measures, especially when recruiting sales generators to future proof your business in these changing times.
Here are a few of the professional sales basics to look out for when making your next sales appointment:
- Sales professionals are brilliant listeners not just persuasive talkers.
- Sales professionals make it easy for people to say yes.
- Sales professionals are engaging problem solvers.
- Sales professionals are resilient and make people feel good.
AND in case you are tempted to forget, sales is a profession not a career optional extra.