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Hey, Expert Salesman: You Don't Know The Half of It

New Member

Yeah, sure, most sales pros believe they have got the goods, that they can pull out of a hat the Big Sales Pitch, twist the necessary arms and alternate limbs to snare that contract, or whatever. But experience, bad experience that is, has taught me that most of the peackocking pros don't know the first thing about sales - literally.
Ever since I was a little kid, people were telling me I should be a salesman, that I was a genius at it. But for me, the source of my "genius" was always a mystery, because I was never really selling anything; I was just intensely expressing my opinion.
As I got into business for myself, and began realizing the importance of the perfectly executed sales pitch, I decided to go ahead and become educated on the subject. I wanted to be the best, to be beyond number one, to completely slay.

In time, however, despite studiously applying all that I had learned [often to the detriment of what I had known naturally], I began to SUCK. I mean really. Yeah, sure I was making a few sales here and there, and I could survive and the like, but gone were the days when knew that I was going to nail it, gone were the days that I could confidently hit the uptight CEO of a company for a crazy idea, and pull success out of certain faliure.
Worse yet for me, I was miserable. I didn't enjoy the hunt or the chase or the anything anymore.
Previously, selling something was like being a kid and rushing into the familiar woods not far from home, taking some out of town friend with you. You knew the place like the back of your hand; if you got thirsty, you knew where the nearest stream was; if you were scared, you knew all the best hiding spots; if you were in a rush, you knew the best shortcuts. But you didn't go in with a predetermined plan; you just winged your way into something interesting.

The new method was like taking GPS instructions around an unfamiliar city; you're just following a template given to you, without any idea what's around the next bend, or what to do if the GPS died. You are no closer to truly understanding the city at the end of the trip than at the beginning. You cling to the instructions like a drowning man clinging to driftwood, because they provide the closest thing to a confident path to the Promised Land. Every other option is blind experimentation, shots in the dark, attempts the result of which is up in the air.
Yes, people are more flexible than the concrete jungle and its immutable pathways, and yes even the boor will find a way to crack a sale.
But surviving and thriving are two different things.
A friend of mine in the Air Force, serving in Iraq, related the story of how he almost got killed by insurgents. Assigned to train Iraqi recruits, he was walking with one off base when they stumbled across an armed, unhappy insurgent, who saw the American and pretty much called for backup.
My friend expressed to me that at that point it was clear they were toast. Too far away from help, outnumbered and outgunned, it was time to say your prayers. But then the Iraqi recruit asked his Air Force mentor to stand by, while he went over and talked to the insurgents.
Off the top of his head, the Iraqi made up a story, haggled and cajoled and insisted and promoted it, and after about fif**** minutes of sometimes tense, sometimes shouting, always arguing, the insurgents bought the story enough to let the American go without so much as a bullet being fired. And this was in the height of the insurgnecy.
Now that is thriving.
For me, at a certain point I just became completely disillusioned with the whole marketing thing, even though I used to love it, and decided to pursue other interests.
After a while, though, a funny thing happened. My old selling nature slowly began to return, like a suppressed spring slowly bubbling to life. I didn't even notice it at first, not seeing what I was doing as sales. Only when people began commenting did I finally realize what was going on.

In the begging [and end] I was not really selling; I was trying to help people, expressing my earnest and passionate opinions because I truly thought that one product or idea was best. I would tell people to go to a competitor if I believed that competitor were better at something. I was never really trying to "sell" an idea; I was trying to make you see why I thought something was right or wrong.
People can sense that. They could sense that I honestly had their best interests in mind [which was true]. They could sense that I was sincere, that I wasn't trying to get the sale at all costs, and that honestly the money involved wasn't the priority.
But when I began to follow the sales template, so the goals changed. The goal became to win the sale. To "convince" people. To make money. To push and prod people to do what I told them to do. To use various tactics and methods and winning formulas. Their best interests were low on the radar, if there at all.
People can sense that too. And so the effectiveness of what I was saying disappeared. The reason people had listened previously - and the reason I was good at what I did - that did not exist anymore.
[You can tell why the enjoyment disappeared as well.]
That right there is the singular most important marketing fact you will never hear or read about. It's the sincerity in what you say and mean that makes you a success or faliure; it's your true concern for the customer and their best interests, your intense belief in what you are doing and telling them, that will lead to the big sales. Not some sales tactics or strategy.
The reason you rarely ever hear about this is because it is covered in a fog for most; people are flexible, as I said, and buyers will listen and consider what an ineffective ad man says, in addition to the attractiveness of the deal they are offering. This covers up the fundemental errors that people make, letting them look at the mechanics of their approach instead of the more important founding basis.
But in my case, because I have always been an intense and passionate person, so I was able to take each approach to the nth level, and eventually bare the basics for all to see.
And so I have come full circle, only now I'm wiser about it. Helping people, putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what their needs are, that is what will endear you to the customer and ultimately lead to all kinds of sales and friendships and unexpected opportunities.
Don't forget one more thing: the product/service you are selling. You can't be acting in someone's best interest selling snake oil, or a subpar product that you don't fully believe in.
So learn from my mistakes. Have fun. And whatever you do, don't suck.

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Topic starter Posted : 30/04/2010 5:06 pm