Sales is the lifeblood of every business. My favorite comment to my community is, “No Sales. No Money. No Business. If you’re not bringing in sales into your business, your business will die a quick and painful close. Every year businesses spend millions of dollars for their sales reps to attend sales training to hone their skills so they have the ability to bring in more money so businesses not only survive but thrive When businesses thrive, they provide not only paychecks but the ability hire more employees, team members, contractors and spread the economic possibilities into the community.
Working in sales and sales management for over 8 years, I was able to understand the importance of the sales department in each division of a Fortune 100 company. When I started, the economy was tanking and I was laid off from my previous job. The only jobs available seemed to be sales positions. So, I started applying and received one interview. That interview was with a chemical company and my bachelor’s degree in the sciences is what got me hired. With no training in sales, I was given a 5 state territory (Texas and surrounding states), a customer list and a boss that was near retirement who had no interest in training me. Off I went to figure it out. The interesting part of this story is within 18 months, I had a $5 million-dollar territory where prior it was a low priority territory. The only thing I did differently at first was be curious about the people who ran the research departments, the plant managers, the buyers and whoever else would visit with me when I showed up. (at first, I didn’t know you were supposed to make appointments!)
It was all I knew to do - be curious - listen and ask great questions. I knew nothing of the product at first, I was selling. I had never taken a sales training class and I had never traveled for work. Talk about being the ‘greenest kid’ out of all the sales departments. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t know what I was doing because it left me with using the best skill - talking to people and being curious about them to receive the information others didn’t get - information that helps build strong relationships at first and then lots of business. The best relationship I ever developed, who became my best customer, was a plant manager of a plastics company. I showed up unannounced at the plant in Oklahoma. The receptionist thought I was there for the secretary’s job. They could tell I was not from the area (the Rhode Island accent gave it away!) and I’m sure he agreed to see me out of curiosity. As I sat down and faced him at his desk, there was this huge Elvis paint by numbers portrait behind him. “You missed a spot.” Those words which happened to tumble out of my mouth began a conversation talking about painting and tumbleweed. That curiosity was tapping into the psychological aspects of the plant manager that were important to him personally and then led to a plant tour which showed his pride in the work being done there on a professional level. It was a profound lesson learned that day, but I didn’t realize it until much later in my sales career.That people hold the glue to a conversation you are having to bring on new customers and clients. That glue is the psychological motivations, desires, emotions and aspirations of the person in front of you, on the phone with you or online with you. It hasn’t changed even though the context has changed and the way we do business with technology. That glue alone with your ability to be a problem solver for your potential clients gets you the sale.
To buy is human. And humans buy based on emotion and then justify with logic every single time.
The next time you are in a strategic sales conversation - respond to your potential client with their emotion instead of justifying with logic first. Otherwise, it will be like two ships passing by each other in the night and not seeing their lights on.