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Firing On All Cylinders- Part 4

Sales or How to Sell Florida Swampland

Business is about offering services and making money - that much is obvious. In order to be ‘firing on all cylinders’, companies need to make sure of two things right off the bat: making sure the service/product offered is good and is in demand and that they have someone who can actually sell what is being offered. To say that sales people are integral to a company’s success is really like stating that cars need engines to operate (I would have said drivers but we can all see where that’s headed…). So, what is it about sales people, anyway?

 Of course, every company needs good employees but their sales people interact directly with customers and must persuade them to buy the product or service. The word “persuade” is key here. If you’re old enough to have watched 70’s TV as it was happening, you’ll be familiar with the program WKRP in Cincinnati and it’s fun loving characters (if not, there is You Tube). Likely, you’re already conjuring up images of Herb Tarlek the loud, obnoxious, blustery, and fashion starved salesman. Although there may very well be sales people like that (may they never cross your path), this is only a stereotype and not the reality (Egads! There is Trump - Herb come to life, only with better suits!). The point, however, is that all successful sales people are articulate and masters of rhetoric which is nothing more than a fancy term for specific language used to manipulate- yes, manipulate. Although this may sound a bit sleazy (due to a minority of slick con artists), in fact, sales people must be able to explain persuasively why their product stands above all others and, truly, the better explanation often wins the contract; for example, if the price is a bit higher than the competition’s the sales person has to provide a compelling reason why it’s worth the price and will be better for the customer in the long run. A perfect illustration of selling at its best and worst is the Clinton/Trump Presidential debate of last week. They are each selling themselves to the people and Trump lost last week because he couldn’t express more than about 3 coherent sentences over 90 minutes and had nothing of substance to say while Clinton used her language skills and composure to put him exactly where she wanted him (and, honestly, this is about effective speech, not politics). This takes us to the second important characteristic – knowledge and competency regarding the product/service being offered. If they have only a passing familiarity with what they’re selling, how can they show, clearly and convincingly, that they have the better offering? They can’t. They also need to know about the competition so they can “one up” them effectively. And if they try to fast talk, they end up rambling and using lines like “Oh, it’s just fabulous!”, “Wow! This is the best ever and, boy, do I know. Trust me.” “ Many people love it…” Really? How many times do you think that might work? Once? Bye- bye to repeat customers and, here’s the thing – every business NEEDS repeat customers. Excellent language skills and competency are vital to selling and any owner/manager who hires a sales person based on flash and slickness in the interview is not going to be happy in the long run. Trust me! (haha)

 The ‘cream of the crop’ sales person is a force to be reckoned with and must be watched like a hawk in the office or you’ll find they’ve sold you swampland in Florida that isn’t even theirs to sell! (it has happened before - OK that’s maybe an exaggeration, maybe). Although you don’t have to bow down to them in the office, keep in mind that they do bring in the dollars and money does talk. Sigh. However, the sales staff, also, must realize that their ability to sell is only as good as the infrastructure of the company, itself. If the product or service doesn’t get delivered on time, if the wrong price has been quoted you, etc. the job becomes nigh on to impossible. Everyone has a part to play and therefore playing nice with each other and respecting the importance of each job is a benefit to one and all.