Have you ever looked up the word "touch" in the dictionary? I did recently and was quite amazed at its many meanings. For instance, we've probably all heard about people who "have the right touch." How about the times we are "touched" by an act of kindness. Then there's the advertising slogan that was so successful for so many years: "Reach out and touch someone." I'm sure we could all think of many ways to use the word. But the one I want to concentrate on involves selling.
The sales business is basically about communications between people. Some people have an ability to say and do things others just can't seem to bring themselves to do. Asking for the order is one of them. Years ago McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. did a study of successful salespeople and how many of them actually had no problem asking for business. Most of the individuals studied were seasoned pros who had been in sales for a number of years. Guess what? Only about half of them said they had no trouble asking for the order. The others admitted that for them it meant asking other people for their money, which embarrassed them. To me that's an astounding finding. You would think asking for business would be quite routine for anyone in sales. But it isn't.
What does this have to do with touch? It has a lot to do with success in sales. Some salespeople can ask customers or clients for an order in such a way that they truly can't wait to buy. With the "soft sell" approach, there's no pressure, no strong-arm tactics, just the ability to ask for the order without offending the person you are calling on. That type of selling entails having the right "touch." But it doesn't come easy for most of us. Doing it the right way takes practice and experience, but most individuals who call themselves salespeople won't practice asking for the order. They'll practice going over promotional materials, they'll practice knowing the price list by heart, they'll even practice their presentations, but they won't practice asking for business. That means tremendous opportunities await those willing to develop the touch.
Most of us, I believe, also want people selling to us who not only give us good service but are smart enough to play to our egos. Never underestimate how important someone's ego is. We all like to be recognized, and we all love someone who takes an interest in us. The best salespeople for any organization know instinctively how to make others feel important. They take a sincere interest in the lives of their customers without being patronizing. They also don't ask for the order prematurely. They are smart enough to recognize there are good times and bad times to ask for business. They study their clients for their moods and idiosyncrasies. They do their homework on an account, and they stay in touch by "reaching out" regularly.
If you want to learn how to have the "right touch," then you have to practice the art of dealing with people. Some do it well and are very successful. They work hard at their relationships with their customers. They take nothing for granted. They stay in close contact on a regular basis, and when it comes time to ask for business they are not ashamed to do so. Most of the time they're successful because their customers respect their professionalism. They've mastered "the right touch."
Practice makes perfect,
Charles S. Lauer