Saturday 30 August 2008

Are you a salesman?

Ask a group of people if they are in sales and see at how many of them say yes.

But hang on, aren’t we all in sales? Aren’t I selling to you right now.

I remember this quote I once read, “You never close a sale, you open a long term relationship." This really inspired me as selling is about listening, and listening is about building relationships. When you convince someone of something a sale has been made. Selling is not just about exchanging some product for a sum of money. Selling is about persuading someone to go on a date with you, selling is about getting someone to agree with your point of view, selling is about convincing someone to give you their time. And for any of these one needs to be respectful, professional and polite. If you want to get someone’s attention then listen to them.

So, I would like to share with you an experience that I had a while back and I hope whoever experienced this with me reads this and learns something. A young guy from a financial services company calls me up and tells me he would like to meet me. He continues to tell me about the work he does and I listen. He asks if he can come and see me and I say, “Sure, and can you tell me what you want to see me about?” And he says, “It won’t take long.” So, again I ask him if he can give me a hint as to what he would like to discuss with me. And again I get no answer. So, I give him my e-mail address and ask him to please send me some of his thoughts and I will get back to him as to when we can meet. He says great. About 10 days later I get an email from him telling me he had a car accident and that he couldn't email me sooner and attached to his email is a fat word processing document – my worst. So, I open this document and have no idea of what it means as I am the least financially oriented person you will ever get to meet. I e-mail him back and ask him what that document was all about and what he would like to discuss with me. A day or so passes and I get a message to call him. Reluctantly I call him back and get his voicemail. I leave a message. He calls me back the next day and drives my poor secretary crazy as he says he needs to speak to me urgently and that he wants to come and see me that afternoon. I was on an important call which went on for almost an hour and he was waiting on the line and giving my secretary a very hard time. Eventually he says he will call me again later which he does. I am now getting pretty irritated and I am not feeling inspired to invest any more time entertaining this person or his ideas, to which, I still have no idea what they are about other than they have something to do with financial services. So, he calls me again that afternoon and I take his call and he tells me he wants to come and see me. I actually want to put the phone down but out of respect and as a courtesy I listen. I tell him that he has given me no clue as to what he would like to speak to me about and that I am getting annoyed by now. He still does not listen and insists that he needs to see me right away. I ask him straight out if he is trying to sell me insurance or something. Turns out he wants to sell our company some kind of pension fund scheme. You can work out the rest of this.

Why don’t people listen? Why are so many people so unprofessional? If you want to sell to someone you need to listen. If he would have been straight forward with me from the start at least I would have respected that. Now I feel no inspiration to listen to anything more he might have to say. I can appreciate a sales-person who is pushy. I always admire chutzpah, but when someone goes by the book I get pretty uninspired. “By the book” is all about the head. Do things from the heart. Be honest. Be loving. Be good. And watch the results. Remember that a company is a vehicle for expression, and work is just love made visible.

Selling is also about being creative. Which is all about listening to one’s heart. And on that note, let me leave you with a good story which will help to sell my point to you this fine weekend. An old Jewish trader was called before the emperor. The emperor told him he had been looking for something all over and no one could find it for him. He had finally asked the Jew in desperation. "Sure", said the Jew, with a vision of a huge profit flashing before him. "I can get anything". "Price is no object", said the emperor. The Jew’s eyes opened wide. "Just tell me what and it will be yours." he said. "I want a poodle", said the emperor. The Jew scratched his head. "A poodle?" he said. "A very difficult problem, your majesty, but I can do it." "Are you sure?" asked the emperor. "Sure I'm sure", replied the Jew. "But it will be very very expensive." "I told you money was no object" replied the emperor. "Just as long as I can get one." "Do you want a big one or a small one? asked the Jew. "A big one" the emperor replied. "Even more difficult, your majesty" said the Jew. "It is much harder to find, but I can do it.” he scratched his head again. "What colour do you want?" he asked." A black one" said the emperor. "That is the most expensive of all" said the Jew, "but I can do it." "Money is no object. Just get it." said the emperor. "You will need to be patient" said the Jew. "Just leave it to me." He went backwards to the huge doors of the audience chamber, bowing as he went. "Just leave it to me and it will be yours." he repeated. As he went out of the door, he turned to the footman standing there. "Tell me," he said. "What's a poodle?"

Posted by Ronnie Apteker