I’ve heard it said that we’re all in sales, in one form or another. And there’s probably some truth to that. Having children means selling them on the benefits of brushing their teeth and going to sleep at a good hour and sometimes we try to sell our friends on why we should eat at this restaurant or to try out this new golf club or go see that movie that we thought was so good.
But for actual salespeople, or those of us who’s work it is to assist people in the actual sale of a product or service, there are some things that I believe are fundamentally important to being successful at what we do, and they aren’t necessarily the same things that are important in other professions.
There’s a difference between acheiving success and being a successful salesperson- this post is about the latter. Five things about successful salespeople;
They like people. We’re all different and for every type of personality there is someone who wants to work with them. But I believe the truly successful salesperson enjoys other people and wants to do well by them. They have a social element to their personality. I don’t think they need to be especially outgoing, but if you genuinely like people you’ll want to be around them. It’s interesting to observe people at parties or gatherings. Next time you’re at a party watch how some people naturally float around talking to everyone and some people stay next to the people they came with.
They lead. A good salesperson can assist their clients in making decisions. Often times we need someone to make it okay to make a decision. Good salespeople give us options, help us to decipher all the information, and then they encourage us to go ahead with the purchase. Sometimes people need validation on their decision or a push in the right direction. Nobody likes a pushy salesman, and that creates the problem. Nobody wants to be a pushy salesman because then they’d have to hate themselves. But there’s a big difference in that fine line between pushy salesman and successful salesperson.
They gain our trust. It takes time to earn trust or respect, but it takes a lot longer for some, because they don’t actively earn it. If I’m looking for a new HDTV I want the salesperson to have answers and offer them to me. I want them to show me the difference between differest technologies and tell me if some models or brands get a lot of complaints or returns. I don’t know the right questions to ask because TV’s aren’t my thing. I want them to tell me what I should know and give me reasons to buy one brand or technology over another. I may not know the person when I first enter the store, but by the time I leave I might trust them completely when it comes to buying a new HDTV. And if I do, that’s a successful salesperson.
They learn. Imagine sitting down with your accountant to prepare your taxes and they don’t know any of the new tax laws for that year. Successful sales people continue to learn and educate themselves in their field. They know the new products or technologies or statistics and can recite them at will. They know the current trends and the causes behind them.
They’re comfortable. People who are comfortable are comfortable to be around. A salesperson who is nervous or desperate makes me uncomfortable and when I’m shopping for a service or product I want to be comfortable. If I meet an attorney for the first time and they are dressed in shorts and a Tommy Bahamas shirt I may be surprised, but if they’re comfortable and these clothes match their personality that’s better than if they’re wearing a three-piece suit and look completely uncomfortable and stiff. They speak comfortably and they don’t force their smile. Successful salespeople help you feel comfortable with them and the sales process and that starts with them being comfortable with themselves.
They put me first.We’ve all heard stories about Nordstroms and their great service, but I’ll tell you my own. There used to be a guy named Seth who worked at the downtown store. I liked Seth because he knew my name, my size and my taste in clothes. I could call Seth and tell him I wanted to buy a few shirts and when I came in he’d have seven or eight shirts laid out for me to try on and they would be shirts I would like. But the best part about it was a couple of the shirts wouldn’t even be from Nordstroms. Seth would go to other stores in the mall and find shirts he thought I’d like and get permission to show them to me. He didn’t make any commission if I bought those shirts, but he wanted me to find what I was looking for. One day I bought some clothes as gift for my girlfriend and asked Seth if he could have it delivered for me and just charge me the delivery fee. Of course he agreed, but he didn’t have it delivered- he delivered it himself because it was “on his way”. Seth was transferred to be a manager at a store in another state but I’m sure he’s providing the same service for people wherever he is.
Okay, that’s six things, but I’m giving a little extra. The most successful salespeople are unusual and that is why there are so few who are truly successful. Sales can be extremely challenging, especially when you make your living completely on commission- but it can also be very rewarding.
I know a lot about my work and I think I’m among the best in my field. I know the service I provide and the success my clients have working with me. And at the end of the day I feel successful and that makes my work worth doing.