Salespeople are the backbone of any organization, and yet, too often a sales force is thought of as an expense when in reality it's a very important investment. Salespeople can bring wealth and success to their employer; and when they make a sale to a customer, they are also meeting that person or company's needs.
A few days ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a large group of salespeople. Most of them are experienced professionals who know the healthcare industry and have mastered the basics of quality selling. I started by talking about how important attitude is in the selling business. There are so many people today who want to go into sales, but they don't understand the sacrifices that are necessary to succeed. Selling involves a lot of rejection, but the pros know how to take a no and eventually turn it into a yes.
Selling is a profession that takes a lot of training and hard work, just like any other profession. No one gets there overnight, and if you have the right attitude, you realize that you will learn something new every day that you are out in the field selling. There simply isn't any easy path to success. Ask anybody who has a measure of success in their career and they will tell you the same thing.
Listening is key. I can't begin to emphasize how important listening is in any human interaction. The problem is that so many people are enraptured by what they are saying that they don't really listen to the other person. In sales, if you aren't listening to the needs and wants of your customers and making sure you fulfill them, you aren't going very far with that account.
Too many people in sales seem to be so full of themselves that they forget that their job is to meet the expectations of their customers and not fulfill their own needs and wants. Listening with your eyes, ears and brain takes discipline and practice. Watch successful salespeople in today's environment and you'll see what I mean. They listen intently when they are working with a client and don't miss a trick. Customers are people, with the egos and sensitivities that we all have. When you talk over a client and miss the clues they are giving you on how to sell them, you are missing an excellent opportunity.
Remember always that when you visit a customer, you are a guest in that person's house and you should act accordingly. Let the client set the tone and lead the discussion. You have been given the privilege of visiting with a customer; and if you violate that privilege, you may not be invited back.
This leads me to something that I have tried to drill into all the salespeople that I have worked with. It's called good manners-something in short supply these days. Part of that is dressing like a pro. If I'm going to spend money with anyone, I want to make sure I'm doing so with people who are stable and mature. Looking and acting casual says something about yourself and the products you have to sell, not to mention giving the client the feeling you don't care much about him or her. We all want to be treated with dignity and respect, so why should someone with whom you wish to do business be any different?
When entertaining a client, always ensure that their needs are taken care of first. I've seen salespeople who are supposed to be socializing with clients paying more attention to their own needs than the client's. Do the little things, such as making sure everyone is seated at a table before you seat yourself, holding doors for others. Say "yes, sir" and "no, ma'am" to your clients, and don't call them by their first names unless they ask you to.
Know your company's products and services. It is so rudimentary but I've actually sat in on presentations where salespeople have made inaccurate statements about what they are selling. When challenged they make things worse by making something up instead of saying, "I don't know, but I'll get back to you with the answer tomorrow." Be honest and straightforward.
Selling requires stamina, hard work, intellect and tenacity. It requires people who are willing to work long hours and take pride in themselves and their companies. Salespeople are a passionate bunch, and they are very special. They make things happen. No matter how wonderful a company's products are, no matter how nice the headquarters is, nothing happens until a salesperson goes out on a call and makes a sale. That's where it all begins to take shape.
That's the way any salesperson should feel every minute he or she is out in the field selling. Every one of them should feel like it is a privilege to be in this field.
Sales isn't for everyone. The rejection and the travel can be a grind. To a real professional, however, there is no higher calling.
The right attitude is required,