What makes a great salesperson? One thing's for sure, it's not about having the gift of the gab. Over the years I’ve found that the secret to great selling is being yourself and listening to your customers. Weird, right?
Once a month The Humble Gents takes our show on the road. Currently, if you’re interested in purchasing our oils, sprays and soaps or even just chatting it up, these live events are the best way to do it. (Shameless plug? Maybe.)
This past weekend we attended Second Saturday’s, an artisan fair at the Village Gate here in Rochester, NY. I had the amazing opportunity to bring my daughter along with me. I could tell that time was passing slowly for her just standing there watching. So, I did what any good dad would do, I threw her to the wolves. We chatted about the products, ingredients, benefits of each, and of course, the pricing. Once I was assured she had a good grasp and had watched me interact with enough people, I passed the baton over to her and let her sell.
I sat back and observed her at work. Trying to engage people as they walked by, refusing to make eye contact. Seeing the discouragement, I stepped in and offered one piece of advice. Once she implemented that, the lid was off and the table was packed.
So, what was it?
Simple, talk to people first, engage them where they’re at and let the product do the hard work. If it’s good and the right fit, it will sell itself.
The change looked like this.
From “Would you like to buy some soap?” To “Hi there, would you like to check out our soap?”
Just that simple invitation into our world was enough to put people at ease. An invitation that says, we think what we’ve got is pretty amazing, we think you will to, just check out what we’re doing.
And with that, aside from kicking butt and selling out of product, I hope that she took a few key lessons away from that experience. Lessons I think we can all share.
1. Don’t fear talking to people
I have found that as you meet people, you’ll meet more people. In turn your network will grow. It starts with being comfortable around people. That level of comfort comes across as confidence, which in turn helps others be at ease and like being around you. And that, helps your network continue to grow and helps you to expand as a person.
2. Rejection is just an event, it is not good or bad, it just is
Whether you're selling or trying to build your network, you’re going to be rejected and its going to happen often. This weekend, we talked to a lot of people and many of them said no. But they didn’t say no to us, it’s not personal. This is such a key life skill. Sometimes people aren’t ready to be where you’re at or aren’t ready for your product. On occasion, they may be abrupt or come off as rude. That’s okay and it offers you a chance to learn. Being able to stay positive and move past that rude response helps you stay focused on your overall goals. The most successful people in business and in life have been rejected more times than they can count. But they never gave up. They got better, they learned, and they put themselves on the line over and over again.
3. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason
The goal for a good sales person, really any person, is to get the other party to speak more than you. And when people are speaking, our goal should be to really listen to them to identify what they need. As time goes on, you learn how to ask the right questions at the right time. As I told my daughter, people do not want to talk to people they do not trust much less buy from them. By listening, you allow people to become comfortable with you. You begin to understand who they are and how you can help them. People love talking about themselves and their issues. Just listening and responding with care builds trust. You also learn how to read between the lines. They may not realize what they are really communicating, but listening and learning to understand their real need will make you a better salesperson and friend.
4. How to effectively get your point across politely
To be fair, people’s lives are usually fine without whatever it is that you have. Perhaps a way to look at it is that we exist to help make someone’s life easier or better. When speaking, make sure to be confident, knowledgeable, and polite. When working to get your point across or asking for action, use logic, positive language and confidence.
5. You only have so much time, choose what you do with it carefully
It can be damn hard to figure out what to spend your time on. With so many competing items in your day quickly and effectively identifying where to invest in will pay huge dividends. Every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else. At our event, when we chose to speak to one person, that meant that someone else wouldn’t get our attention. It’s impossible to be all things to all people. It is impossible to speak with everyone. There are only 24 hours in a day. You must choose what to do during those hours to find success, (which customers you’re going to spend your time on and say yes to).
At the end of the day this weekend I saw my daughter move from timid to confident. I am hopeful that she began developing skills that don’t receive a lot of attention in traditional schools. Little events like this, prepares us for the challenges we'll face in life.
Especially in sales, the lessons we learn are critical life skills.