Norm Brodsky writes a column for Inc. magazine. The publication is full of case histories, information and advice on growing companies. In this month's column, which is titled "Street Smarts," Brodsky tells us "The Truth About Selling." That immediately caught my attention. According to the brief bio on Brodsky, he's a veteran entrepreneur who operates six businesses, so he has more than a little knowledge of what does and what doesn't work in the marketplace.
Brodsky starts off by telling us that "everybody sells" to some degree in any organization. His thesis is that those who are in any kind of supervisory position must have a working knowledge of the selling process. He says there tends to be something of a "mystique" about selling because many in management lack firsthand experience in sales. Therefore, when a salesperson runs into a problem and brings it back to management for resolution, more often than not management doesn't know what to do. They're simply unable to grasp what's happening in the field.
But Brodsky has an answer for this scenario. He believes the president or CEO in small and medium-sized companies should teach the fundamentals of sales to all department heads and supervisors. Brodsky tells a story about the time he took the new head of a division in one of his companies out on a sales call. The poor fellow kept telling Brodsky that he just couldn't sell. He said it just wasn't in his blood. But Brodsky kept after him and finally one day they went out on a call.
They headed off to midtown Manhattan where Brodsky picked a building at random. He told his new division head to select a company from the building directory. The man was both puzzled and concerned. He kept asking Brodsky what he was up to, and Brodsky kept telling him he was going to show him how to make a sale. The company they called on was a small advertising agency. The receptionist greeted them, and that's when Brodsky told her he was there to promote his messenger service. He asked to see the person who hired such services. It turned out the receptionist was the one who made that decision.
Brodsky explained that it was his first day on the job and he was going to make her an offer she couldn't refuse. He told her that for the next four months he was going to handle all her messenger calls for a $1 a call. The going rate at the time was $6.50 per call. At first the receptionist was suspicious and asked Brodsky about the quality of his service. He reassured her and told her that after four months her company would have to pay the regular rate, which was very reasonable. She told Brodsky he would get the business if he would put his promises in writing.
The next scene is Brodsky and the division head leaving the office. Brodsky tells his colleague that as promised he had just shown him how to make a sale. The division head agreed. Brodsky added: "OK, I guess that's your definition of a sale." The man then asked Brodsky for his definition. "My definition of a sale," Brodsky responded, "involves making money on it. That's why we have salespeople. Anybody can do what I just did. When we hire salespeople, we're hiring them to go out and make sales at a profit." What Brodsky was trying to teach his student was the difference between a good sale and a bad sale.
The point is that too many people in business don't have a clue about selling. With some measure of sales experience those people would have a better understanding of the process and its critical role in any organization. Yes, everyone does sell, but it takes hard work and patience to learn the difference between good selling and bad selling. One spells success; the other leads to failure.