Selling Ketchup popsicles

..to women wearing white gloves, as the saying goes, should be just another day at the office for a polished salesman. Selling is a prehistoric art, before there was a wheel or a lightbulb people were selling each other to literally put food on the table. There is no getting around it, if your in business you need to know how to sell or you don’t have a business. It is especially important to people with non technical backgrounds in business. People like me can’t code, I’m no engineer, I’m not even all that good at excel…I have a management degree. The kind of qualifications that make an employer think to himself, what would I even get this guy to do? The answer is I better damn well know how to sell some stuff, starting with myself. I would assume there are a lot of people who fall into this category, no defined job from their education. Sales is the answer. If you can sell somebody’s stuff they will give you a job. Why are sales people usually the highest paid in any organization? Because they prove their worth. If job cuts ever have to be made management looks at the risk advisors and other consultant like people they keep on staff and question if they are really needed. Sales people are justified, you have x number of them you will sell roughly x amount of product. This role sticks around like an enforcer on a hockey team. There are usually many more talented people who were just as tough who never make the NHL, the problem is they aren’t fighters from the start. These players are just above average forwards who coaches keep on a comparison basis. The fighters are kept around because that’s what they do and every team needs one so the decision is already made for the coach.

There is a big difference between knowing sales is important and actually knowing sales. After all they don’t teach you this in college (another issue) so how would you know where to start, unless you worked selling T-shirts at Bootlegger for 3 years during  high school (sarcasm). Truth is that experience really would have helped you start to learn the craft but like anything else that isn’t taught in schools these days it is possible to learn on your own. Either employers aren’t yet aware or we aren’t good enough at showing them yet but there is this tool called Google where you can find anything you want on the internet and learn just about anything for free. Find some influential people with strong backgrounds in sales, follow them on twitter. Find their blogs, subscribe to their RSS. Find other similar blogs. Watch video seminars and sales pitches. Watch feature films dedicated to selling. Read books, ebooks. Try writing sales copy on a simple landing page using a small investment in google adwords to drive some traffic, monitor it see how you could make it better. Look at what sites are converting well, what does their copy look like. Go try and buy something, pay attention to what questions the sales person asks. It really is possible to learn a craft without getting a degree that proves you are good at it. However in sales, to perfect this art you really do need experience. If you want to go all in on your effort to become a good salesman get a job selling something door to door, or cold calling.

“That seems like a lot of work. I already have a degree and I deserve x amount of dollars without learning anything more” haha ok well first of all you should look at school as the beginning of your learning not the end. But I will point out some of the key attributes that great sales people have so you can try your luck with no preparation if you dare.

The thing I love most about sales is how closely related it is to talking to women. If at any moment in a sales meeting your thinking to yourself my date would be faking a cell phone call or pretending to be violently ill right now chances are you aren’t going to sell anything. (disclosure: I am not a pickup artist nor a professional salesmen so take advice with consideration) From my experiences asking good questions is THE most important thing in either scenario. There are many theories about manipulating via Yes trains and other techniques which I’m sure work great however I will keep this very basic. Using questions to connect to a positive emotion and relating that to the product you are trying to sell is the ultimate goal. Selling an experience. For example say your selling a kite to a dad. You don’t start listing it’s features and bragging about the artwork on the kite, you probably won’t even talk about the price right away. You ask have you and your son ever been to disneyland, if so do you remember the look in his eyes the moment you walked up to those gates. He probably started running around with uncontrollable excitement. This kite that will give him that same type of excitement and all you need is a little wind and your backyard. If you want that proud parent feeling when your kids light up with excitement you need this. And so on and so on….. Another important thing is you need to whole heartedly believe you are selling for the customers benefit, what you have will improve their life somehow and you are making the world better by giving people the opportunity to buy it. The last tip in this short summary on sales is again back to emotions. Have you ever noticed how good sales people make you feel good about what you just purchased. You want to tell someone about it right away, buyers remorse usually does not exist. The best way to leave that impression is take genuine interest in your customer. If you let them know you resonate with them and you care about their decision and their lives this will take you a long way. Exactly why sales people are so good with names, when you call someone you’ve only met once by their first name they are usually impressed, giving that person an immediate sense of trust in you.

In the movie the boiler room they depict stock brokers making high pressure sales calls. This movie was famed as a classic must see for business grads depicting great sales techniques. Personally I would say the movie is pretty average but does have some good take away points for sales. In phone sales, prepare rebuttals. This applies to any sales really, anticipate people’s excuses and prepare for them. Also, up sell. It is much easier to sell something that is 100,000 is you first get the customer to agree on a 60, 000 product and work your way up. Finally, qualified leads are so important. You don’t want to waste your time selling to people who aren’t at all interested, initiate interest and close, period.

Sales is like golf, you can always get better at it. Don’t worry, no one breaks par their first year.