My Grandfather started a business in his shed many years ago, not long after the 2nd World War. By the time I was 13, it had built into a successful business with 5 stores. My Dad was the general manager. Of course I spent a lot of spare time at the stores, and in school holidays would go to work with my Mum, who was the courier for the company and took stock from the central warehouse to the stores.
Coming up to Christmas that year, I begged to be allowed to work in one of the stores. I *said* I would wrap Christmas presents, but I had a secret hidden desire that nobody knew about. My parents finally agreed to me working in the main branch, where my Dad was, so he could keep an eye on me. On the very first day, he had a meeting and left the store shortly after it opened. By the time he got back, I had sold $500 worth of small appliances. I’d written down each item I sold on a little piece of card. There were 28 of them. Dad hit the roof! I was supposed to be wrapping presents, not selling things.
I knew then that I was born to be a salesperson, and this was just second nature to me, and I explained it to him, and the next day there was no more talk of wrapping things, I got out there on the floor and sold stuff all day. A passion was born, and I was hooked.
I learned a lot from my Dad. He was the best salesperson I ever knew, but he was also one with plenty of bad habits, all of which I picked up. The good did outweigh the bad and I survived for years on what he’d taught me, working in several of the family’s stores. There was no mention of training, because I was doing just fine.
There came a point where I had to go out on my own. If you can sell, you can work pretty much anywhere, but I was drawn to the same things the rest of my family was. Electronics. I went out into the real world to discover that the place my parents had owned was unique in terms of looking after your staff, being as loyal to them as they were to you. In the real world, someone would have a knife in your back while smiling to your face.
I’ve done a lot of training over the years now. You can approach training from several angles but the two most common are – this is a waste of my time and I’m not going to get anything out of this so I’m going in with closed ears – or – I’m willing to listen and try new things out to see if they work for me. I always chose the second path. I have seen many people choose the first and I always find it hilarious when they get left behind because everyone else in the store is trying the new stuff and it WORKS.
One thing salespeople hate to do is “ask for the sale”. It’s something I have struggled with all my life and it really is ridiculous. Imagine for a moment that you were the customer, and I was serving you. You wanted a washing machine. During the time we spend together, I would ask you a number of questions. It’s sort of like a funnel. We salespeople ask all the questions, we listen to the answers, and then we think about what product is best going to suit you – and that is what pops out at the end of the funnel.
So by the time we get to asking for the sale, I probably would have asked things like –
– How often do you wash?
– What kind of washing machine do you have now?
– Have you been happy with that machine?
– What do you most like about that machine?
– Would you prefer a front or top load machine?
All those, and probably a bunch more. So a salesperson will have been asking questions for a good 15 minutes, then they show you the options you have. At the end of all that, many salespeople are too scared to ask the most important question, which is essentially do you want one? Though you have to find the right way of wording it.
I struggled against it like a fish trapped in a net. I would just rather not ask. I felt like if someone appreciated my service they would buy from me. Until one day I went to a training session and finally understood it when someone explained that I’d already asked them a lot of questions, what is the harm of one more? I just had to find a way of asking the question that I was comfortable with. And I did, and my sales figures went up and up.
Sometimes it is about someone presenting it to you in the right way.
Sales is a bit like sport, many people compare it to that and they are right to do so. You can not improve unless you are willing to try new things, experiment. And one of the things so important to a sports team is to think positive. Imagine if you went out onto the field thinking “I can’t win this game”. Imagine if when you lost you took it very personally and that negative self talk starts up in your head. “I’m no good at this game. I lost last week, and I’ll lose this week. I’ll always lose. I’m a loser”. You’re defeated before you even walk out onto the field.
This quote from Arthur Golden’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” explains my philosophy on negative thoughts in your head..
“I made up my mind to be like the fisherman who hour after hour scoops out fish with his net. Whenever thoughts of the Chairman drifted up from within me, I would scoop them out, and scoop them out again, and again, until none of them were left.”
You have to scoop those negative thoughts out, or else you end up dwelling on them. But you have to replace them with something, too. My preference is to replace them with a positive thought.
So, in light of this, each day from now on I will be posting a “thought for today” as well as my usual blog post. They might come from the cards I use here, they might be quotes from books or other places. I hope you might find them useful. If any of them really speak to you or you feel like you want to work on that thought, it might be an idea to write them down and put them in front of your computer screen.
If you have any thoughts to put forward, just email them to me.. ;)