The conversation started off innocently enough, and it was certainly anything but contentious. By chance I was asked to help interview a job candidate while I was visiting some friends in Florida. My host runs a company that has grown rapidly over the past four or five years, and it is in the process of adding new salespeople to its staff.
Since I was present when one of the officers brought the sales candidate into the owners office, my friend asked me to participate in the interview. For the most part I kept my mouth shut and let the owner and his staff conduct the interview. After all, I was merely a guest.
However, as the discussion went on, I found myself interjecting a question toward this candidate, who was conducting herself in a professional and direct manner. My question was simple: Do you mind being called a peddler? Her answer was swift and to the point. I dont consider myself a peddler like those that sell medical products or automobiles. My approach is more along the lines of the consultative technique.
What surprised me was the reproach in her tone. To her it would seem the word peddler was not one she would want to have her good name associated with. I had asked my question thinking she would come back with something like, I love selling, I love people, and I think closing a sale is really fulfilling. My purpose had been to give her an opportunity to display her enthusiasm for sales, and her answer somewhat surprised me.
But I also realize many people in sales today find it objectionable to classify themselves as salespeople. They want to be thought of by their prospects or clients as individuals who can solve the needs and challenges of their clients and customers. Although I can understand that line of thinking, I have thought of myself as a peddler all my life. I believe sales is an honorable way to make a living. So many people get into the business because they think the lifestyle of a salesperson gives them more freedom and the opportunity to be more creative. They dont really understand that to be successful in sales demands discipline, tenacity and the ability to handle rejection.
I recently had one sales manager tell me she felt salespeople today buy into the consultative selling concept because they dont want to be in the business of asking others for money. That puzzles me to no end. A salesmans job is to move products and services and to make the organization he or she works for profitable. That is what capitalism is all about, and salespeople are an integral part of making a company or organization successful.
Many years ago, the McGraw-Hill Cos. did a study to determine how many salespeople actually asked for an order when they were on a sales call. Surprisingly they found that more than 51% of the senior salespeople they interviewed found it embarrassing to ask for the order. The reason even stunned those who conducted the study. Think about that: How many sales managers wonder why their sales staffs arent meeting their goals and then find out that its because their charges arent asking for the orders? Its almost like finding out that the reason that there is an outbreak of infections in a hospital is because the attending physicians arent washing their hands.
If a salesperson really believes in what he is selling, he shouldnt be embarrassed to ask a customer to pay for a product or a service. Unfortunately, too often salespeople dont understand that the things they are selling will help the customers be more efficient and profitable in delivering their own services and products.
Selling is a tough business, and not everyone is cut out for it. Some people get into it and have mediocre results only because they arent willing to do the things that are necessary to be successful. Selling is not a 9 to 5 job because those who really want to excel must always be ready to meet the needs of their clients and customers. They actually take delight in seeing that what they sell helps make their clients successful.
High sales achievers always keep their word. Another name for it would be integrity. A man or a womans word should be his or her bond. It should always be in the forefront because once people lose their integrity, they lose everything. Great salespeople have great integrity, and when they promise something, they deliver. Selling requires total dedication, and Ive known many great salespeople who will tell you that it requires an almost 24/7 approach.
You can have the greatest-looking headquarters in the world and even have the greatest array of products to offer, but if you dont have salespeople in the field representing you and asking for orders, success will elude you. I am proud to be a salesman because when I meet people and see clients or customers they know what Im all about and that is to provide them with products and services that will make them successful.
Selling isnt a game; it is serious business.