We are a recruitment consultancy. Consequently, and hardly surprisingly, lots of people come to us, seeking our help in finding a suitable job. We have a Division that specialises in Sales (and Marketing – which I’ll return to in another blog). Sales though - let’s face it, no-one wants to – right?
A lot of people think that they ‘can’t do sales’, or more typically don’t want to try. There is still a stigma about being a ‘salesman’. Note the gender. For many, even in these equal opportunity days, it is still a ‘salesman’. Yet many (my female friends say most) of the best salespeople nowadays are women. They are known to be patient, listen better than many men and are often more skilled at ‘reading’ a customer. And many of those who are most successful in sales began by thinking that it wasn’t for them.
If you fall into that camp, and believe that selling involves door-to-door predators, double-glazing and used-car salesmen (women don’t sell used cars, apparently), all conning old ladies out of their life savings, then can we politely say - you are wrong.
When someone comes to me, especially if they are looking to change career, perhaps someone who worked in a shop or factory, I always ask them about a job in field sales (I’ll return to telesales in yet another blog). The stereotypes immediately come to their mind. So I ask them, what do you like to buy? Once they realise that it’s a two-way process, with a buyer who often wants/needs the product/service on offer, it becomes easier. You want a hat that matches your coat? I’ve got one. You buy it; I’ve just sold you it. Easy. Now I get paid, and once I sell a few more I get commission and a bonus if I am really good. There is a lot of money to be made if you apply yourself.
Selling makes the world go round. Without it, there would be no business. Yet it’s not just about salespeople traipsing around, displaying their wares and then indulging in a ‘hard sell’ to get the customer to buy. In fact, anyone who thinks that a hard sell works doesn’t know anything about selling.
I tell such candidates that we all sell. Everyone who has children knows they are the best salespeople in the world. They don’t take no for an answer. And even if your job doesn’t require you to hit sales targets, you still sell ideas to people. “Would you pass me the stapler?”, “could we all meet at 3.30?”, “would you ask John to help me load the van?” – all these are ‘sales’ questions. Just add in some money and a choice – “should we buy some stress toys – they are only £100 – and do you want them in this nice blue - or green?” and you have just made an alternative ‘close’, without even knowing it. And your colleague has just agreed to spend £100 of your company’s money, probably on your choice of that ‘nice blue’ stress toy. How hard was that? And how satisfying to get what you wanted!
Sales is about having two ears, one mouth, and using them in those proportions. It’s about asking questions, not hard selling. You listen to the answers and then match your product/service to them. The best salespeople don’t bombard you with a pitch. Sales is about meeting new people, learning about new industries, discovering new places, the best shop to get a bacon roll at 7.00am in Stonehaven, and it’s about making money. The best salespeople can earn a lot.
If all this sounds good to you, we should be talking.
Stuart McRobbie, Director of Sales & Marketing