Sales and marketing are a cornerstone of our economy; everything must be sold whether it is a service or a product. It is easy to feel intimidated by all the hype surrounding sales. I, for one, am in an industry that relies on sales and making targets for the companies I represent. The thing is I do not see myself as a salesperson. I have read all the books, been on courses, studied sales etc., yet my personality does not lend itself to selling in the traditional sense.
In one of my first jobs in the insurance industry I was asked to do cold calling. I failed completely and after three weeks I did not have a single sale or even a request for a quotation. I was depressed and felt like a complete failure. I would study the books on sales, plan my sales talk, do the visualization techniques and whatever else it took, yet my results where always consistent. People did not even let me get through my introductory talk; they would shut me down or tell me that I would be of no use to them. Things had to change.
I focused even harder on studying and sales techniques. I joined a Network marketing organization and spent weekends at seminars and functions. I subscribed to the books and sales tapes. I used the products, gave product away and lived the business by the book. I tried to walk the talk and “fake it until I make it.” I learnt very quickly that people can see a fake from a mile away. My insurance targets were not being met, my network marketing business consisted of just me and a book with about seventy odd leads or potential clients that had all declined to join this passive income machine I was building (in fact they declined more than once!). The time had come for me to throw in the towel. I hated giving up and would often carry on even if it meant limping or crawling to the finish line, however in this case giving up was a matter of survival.
I was ready to change my career, there was absolutely no way I was cut out to be a salesman. I loved the idea, and believed that selling was one of the most powerful business tools to possess, but I conceded to the fact that it was something I was never going to master. I was ready to burn every sales book I had ever bought and unlearn everything. I was no longer interested in selling and I would quite comfortably have picked up a spade and gone to work digging trenches or whatever else a boss required of me, provided it was not sales.
I made a decision to go see my boss and tell him that I was done as part of the sales team and request that he finds me a position within his firm where I could be useful or let me go seek alternate work. The following day I was at work early as usual and I went to see my boss. I shared my frustrations with him and he offered me all sorts of very good advice on how to become a better salesperson. We ran through my methods and the words I used and besides minor tweaks there seemed to be no problems.
Perhaps it was an attitude problem he suggested, but he knew I was committed and we dismissed that. I was given the day off selling and allowed to sit at my desk to try and figure things out for myself. Shortly after the rest of the staff arrived, I began busying myself with admin and seeing where I could be of service to the rest of the staff. The boss came past whilst I was at one of the admin clerk’s desks and asked me to follow up on a lead that had come in; someone had called the office looking for cover and left a message. Without thinking I grabbed the number sat at my desk and called the person. After a few minutes chatting to them I realized that it would probably be best if I met them in person and arranged to do so. I gathered everything I needed for the meeting and left the office. Upon arriving I immediately struck up a friendly conversation and before long all the business was done and I was driving back to the office. By that afternoon I had closed my first deal.
My mind raced that evening as I tried to unpack the events that had taken place. I had actually closed an account, but I did not sell anything in the traditional sense. I had found the formula that worked for me! I was not a textbook salesperson; I was someone who could help a person get exactly what they needed. That day was the start of my new direction and my new outlook on sales. It was one of the turning points in my career.
Despite the struggles, I learnt some valuable lessons during my weeks of cold calling and have since continued to learn and seek out ways to become more successful at what I do.
I want to share with you some of the lessons I have learnt on this journey:
- Be Authentic. Play to your strengths and learn to make the most out of being whoYOU are.
- Value the person you dealing with more than the potential sale. Building a relationship and earning people’s trust is far more important than closing a deal.
- Stop selling! Let people know what you do and how you can help them. Show people how your product or service will benefit them and let them buy from you.
- Always be honest; faking it is a bad strategy! Over the years I have walked away from some large accounts because I did not have the expertise or capabilities to take on such accounts. As a result, people value my honesty and I still do business with them on other lines. If your product is not going to meet the clients need then advise them and recommend the correct product even if you personally cannot provide it.
- Never give up; but do not keep doing the thing that is giving you the results you do not want. Be conscious, adapt, and learn to think out of the box.
- Keep learning and expanding your area of expertise. Invest in yourself, don’t wait for your company or anyone else to do it for you! No-one benefits more than you from what you learn, so hire a coach or buy the books or put yourself on that course, for you.
- Earn respect through honesty, accountability, diligence and not only will you be making sales, you will be growing relationships that will stand you in good stead as your career grows.
I have been in the sales industry for 15 years now and I am still learning how to go about this business. What I do know is that I have found success by not trying to sell anything, rather simply by listening to what people need and doing my best to meet that need. For me building relationships is far more valuable than being the most prolific salesman in town.
If my journey resonates with you and you want to learn more about making sales without selling or get some mentoring don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help.
Dylan Murray: Entrepreneur, adventurer and writer, Dylan believes that anyone can create the lifestyle they dream of and intends to show the world that it is possible, even for the ‘ordinary-man-in-the-street’, to have it all; true love, health, wealth, family and adventure. You can follow him on Twitter @dylanportalfred or on his blog www.dylaninportalfred.com. To enquire about his sales and referral marketing presentations and courses contact him here.