Sales. Everyone has an opinion about selling and salespeople because everyone has had some experience with them; unfortunately, often it isn’t a very flattering opinion. Doesn’t mean they’re right though. A good salesperson has to work incredibly hard to achieve success. Like in any other profession, you can put in a little effort and simply scrape by (although your partner at home might not be happy about Mac ’n Cheese every night) or you can work your fanny off and enjoy that Range Rover or Jaguar. Up to you really. Obviously, what you sell matters because chances are that even if you’re really, really good at selling pens there isn’t a Jag in your driveway. Sigh.
So, let’s look how Sensational Sanjida and Fabulous Franco got to be top performing salespeople (please don’t ask who they are because no one knows - it’s a mystery). For starters, they both work for a company with integrity; one that believes that serving customers (hereafter referred to as RC – Respected Customers) and providing exactly what they need is the most important element of their job. (Clearly, this “case study” is not real and is an ideal situation but just roll with it, ok?). We all know it’s hard to find good jobs but you’ll never be happy working for a boss whose ethics aren’t good and who looks at everything in the short term and doesn’t really have long range goals. And this does affect the sales of Sensational Sanjida and Fabulous Franco because they are confident about both their products and service; they know they have a great organization supporting them. It’s always better when you believe what you say (and your nose doesn’t grow longer either! Pinocchio, remember?).
Before SS (Sensational Sanjida) even walks into her RC’s office, she already knows everything about him/her (there is no stalking involved here, btw). She has done her homework thoroughly (yes, homework…one never gets away from it!). SS has made several calls ahead of time and established a relationship with RC and has listened more than she has talked. SS has taken note of what is needed, not what she thinks she can pawn off on him/her. When she does speak, she speaks with expertise and understanding. She knows her stuff, in other words. She is articulate and because she speaks well, SS doesn’t trip over her words and doesn’t fill her conversation with irrelevant, meaningless phrases or information. This means that during her meeting with RC, she gives knowledgeable advice and might periodically even undersell if she realizes the RC doesn’t need as much as he thinks he needs. This honesty not only gets her repeat business but also those all important referrals. In her frequent conversations with RC, she has demonstrated, with facts, how valuable her product/service is (you know, the why you can’t manage anything without my company or me kind of value) and before leaving RC’s office, she has also suggested how she can be of further service. Deal is signed, sealed, and closed. Bam!
Well, lucky for Sensational Sanjida’s boss, he also has Fabulous Franco (hereafter referred to as FF – you already guessed, right?) working for him and he is every bit as good as SS. So what can we learn from him? A fair bit. FF is a stickler for detail and is super-efficient. As part of the company’s professional development, he attended a time management course and it has changed his life (well, kinda). He doesn’t try to do every little thing himself but makes appropriate use of the resources available in his company (software and other personnel who can take care of the nitty gritty administrative work). This allows him more time to focus on learning more about his field, his products, etc. He is always on top of what has changed and how these changes can help his various RCs. See? He stays current, pays attention to the details, and is efficient. To further streamline, he makes good use of his company’s marketing dept. to help put together effective presentations that are not only eye catching but truly informative. No misrepresentation- he’s a real content oriented guy! He works hard at establishing a positive relationship with his RC and so some chit chat is always good (you might need to know RC’s golf handicap some day). His golden rule, though, is to give his full attention to RC. No taking other calls or checking his phone while in a meeting. How rude would that be? That RC is all that matters to him in the moment. RC is special. Having said this, because FF is smart, he doesn’t “waste” time so he does try to get the deal done as quickly as he can and he never just walks away saying, “OK then, call me when you think you’re ready”. Never! He always sets up another appointment or call and always follows up. Laziness is not in his DNA. Once FF has made the sale, he doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t go home and pat himself on the back (well, maybe a little). Instead, he thinks back over how he handled that sale and he de-constructs it (Wow! Sounds painful). He knows he has weaknesses (c’mon, Sensational Sanjida points them out all the time…no, she’s only teasing) and he is determined to examine them and make the appropriate changes so that he gets better with each sale. When you become experienced, you’re supposed to show it.
Now not every company is as wonderful as Sensational Sanjida and Fabulous Franco’s and not every company is blessed with a plethora (love the sound of that word) of SS and FFs either but the company that cares about its employees and understands that they are its backbone is the one that will thrive. The salesperson who works hard, understands a bit about human psychology, is honest, is competent, and is articulate (oh man, sounds too good to be true) will always do well and will go home at night feeling satisfied. However, all the SS and FF’s of the world can control only one thing – themselves. So the moral of this story is to keep learning, put forth your best effort, and have the honesty of Abe Lincoln.