I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Everyone should have at least one sales job in their lifetime.
The sad thing, though, is we’ve all probably heard this about sales people too:
- “Sales guys are scam artists.”
- “Salesman are unethical.”
- “I hate sales people.”
- “I’m definitely not good at sales.”
Have you been guilty of saying something like this?
The truth is, you’re probably right; some sales guys are scam artists, some sales tactics are unethical. And even I, who love everything about sales,
hate strongly dislike some sales people (like those vacuum cleaner sales peeps I met at a recent expo who kept trying to commit my wife and I to “buy, buy, buy today or the deal will be gone…”)
When I meet sales people like that, I feel just like you – “AHHHHH! Leave me alone!”
Not All Sales Are Bad
But, then I’m reminded that there are good sales people too. Like the car dealer I dealt with recently who went out of his way to give me lots of info, to follow up, and, even after the sale, to see how things were going. Even though he was over an hour a way from where I live, the next time I’m in the car market, I’ll look him up for sure.
The simple phrase, “How can I help?” is a perfect sales intro, especially if it’s sincere. The relationship I have with some of my best clients started with that simple question – “How can I help you?”
We all sell ideas, opinions, or products every day. If you say you suck at sales, you are basically “selling” the reason why you hate salesmen or sales.
Think about it, if you’re a parent to “sell” dinner (and why your kids should try new things) every night.
You sell your kids on why they need to shut out the lights and go to bed.
You sell them on why doing their homework before they play outside is the best option (and only option) they have.
In addition to the parent/sales role, have you ever interviewed for a job? Wasn’t that one big self-proclaiming sales pitch to your potential employer?
And what I’ve learned about hiring is that it isn’t really what your resume says that’s most important, it’s about how well you sell yourself to the interviewer. Do they like you? Could they see themselves working with you? If you aren’t good at selling your likeability and skill set, good luck getting the job you really want.
The Sales Experience
Honestly, many sales guys get such a bad rap, possibly because of the “used car salesman” approach or the “door-to-door vacuum sales person”. However, to understand sales, you have to realize that every sales job is different:
Right after graduation from college I took a job with a copier & printer company doing “cold calling” and door-to-door sales. I was given no leads, no referrals, nothing – just thrown out there cold turkey. As I look back at that experience I can easily say that I learned so much; it’s not exactly what I’d want to do for a life-long career, but it was a huge step in the right direction.
I also learned how important creating business relationships can be in generating new business. Just before I left that job for a better, more life-long option, I made a sale to a client for over $50,000. Why? It wasn’t because I knew all there was to know about the product; it wasn’t because I lied to them about what they were getting; it definitely wasn’t because we had the “best price in town.” It was primarily because of the friendship we had developed.
It’s amazing what a round of golf can do for a business relationship – it’s almost like taking surprise flowers to your wife! Clients like to be “wined & dined” and be taken care of. Everyone likes to have friends. And everyone likes to feel like you have their best interest in mind.
So, my point is this: If you really want to succeed as an entrepreneur, learn how to sell.
If you really want to understand what motivation is, what commitment is, what hard work is, what creating win/win situations is – get a sales job.
If you want to learn about the power of confidence and belief, the importance of setting and reviewing goals frequently, the influence being nice to people has on your success, and the psychology of why people do (or don’t do) what they do – get a sales job!
What has been your experience in the world of sales?