Saturday, January 03, 2009

Death of a Salesman

Since the beginning of time, there have been people trying to trade their goods or services to other people in the pursuit of getting either something that they need or desire. In the beginning, those items which were traded comprised of tangible items such as food, building materials and other such products.

As humans became more sophisticated, tradable items became a bit more standardized in the form of money and societal needs advanced further into the trading of these standardized monies which developed past that of tangible items to that of services such as the selling of information and services.

To the buyer, salesmen have been the Bain of their existence. In a high pressure environment, salesmen may be pressured to do anything and everything in order to ensure that the end result was "a sell". This mindset has caused consumers to become angry, disenchanted and, in many cases, has led some potential buyers to go elsewhere for an inferior product.

It definitely takes a certain highly strung, success driven and competitive person, with little personal integrity to have enough energy to begin their sales career in one of these high pressure situations. This is the conundrum I found myself in when I stepped into the arena. My background of working with non-profit organization did not exactly help me in my quest for success in the world of sales.

Though my experience placed my near the rear of the pecking order, it was also a blessing in disguise, furnishing me the opportunity to see the error of the traditional salesman way of thinking and has since, through knowledge, integrity and personable interactions, lead me to become promoted years before my time. There are five simple guidelines that every salesman must integrate into their daily routine in order to insure that they are really serving the customer and not just their pockets.

In turn, these five rules will bring peace to the soul and in turn, create an easier sale.

5. Visualize The Sale

Just before the salesman engages the potential customer, they should take a minute or two and mentally visualize the sell being successful. This minute is one of the most important part of the sales process as pointed out in "The One Minute Sales Person" written by Spencer Johnson, M.D. and co-authored with Larry Wilson.

4. Realize That We Are Not All The Same

If you are explaining how a treadmill improves your cardio vascular health to a certified personal trainer when attempting to sell them a gym membership, I would hope that you would explain it differently to an over-weight middle aged house-wife whose idea of cardio health is passing up the fried chicken to get to the roasted turkey on the buffet line.

3. Know Your Product

Customers feel more at ease when you have increased knowledge of the product in which you are selling. Humans are learners by nature, so the more information which you provide increases the fantasy that you are a subject expert, drawing the costumer more into a sense of comfort and trust.

2. Know When To Back Off

Any good salesman know that the customer will through up road-blocks such as I don't have enough money or I have to check with my spouse once you finally attempt to 'close the deal'. These are valid concerns which should be taken into consideration (they also should have been identified well before the salesman tried to close to deal, but that is beside the point). One or two are acceptable, but if the objection count starts to reach three or four, you may just have to let that customer come back another day.

1. Make Them Believe It

If all of the aforementioned steps have been followed and adhered to throughout the entire customer - salesman interaction, this last step should have already been accomplished. Once the customer believes that the price in which you are selling the product is equaled to their value of the product, or equaled to their marginal utility of the product, closing the sale is the next logical step.

Barring the myriad of variable that may go into customer interaction, on a tertiary level, if these five steps are followed, selling can be made easy, fun and profitable.


Johnson, Spencer, and Larry Wilson. The One Minute Sales Person. New York: Random House, 1984

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