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Business Life Lessons Sales

How Do I Define Selling

How Do I Define Selling?

What is selling? It is a profession. Professional salespeople understand this and rise above the “order takers” that permeate the industry.

Are you a professional? Do you consistently work to improve your skills and abilities? Do you read books on selling and self-improvement? Do you listen to podcasts from salespeople that have shown themselves to be professionals? Do you study the art of selling in the modern world?

A professional salesperson is a person who partners with a customer to make their life better.

What selling is not

Selling is not bullying the customer. It is not pushing the customer. It is not “fast-talking” them into something they don’t need.

I don’t believe selling is spotting the taxidermied fish on the wall and asking about their fishing trip on the initial appointment. It is not asking questions like, “What keeps you up at night?” It is not about telling the customer what you think they want to hear, even if you have to tell a little white lie.

A short time ago, my sixteen-year-old granddaughter made a disparaging remark about selling. “It is crooked and all about lying,” she said. Curious, I asked for details and got the following story.

She and her mother went shopping for cell phones with a new carrier. They looked at the phones and asked a clerk in the store about what she thought about the one they liked. She then steered them to a particular telephone they hadn’t been interested in and began pressuring them to purchase “today” because of some “special” they were running.

They began asking questions and the answers they got were convincing enough that they made the purchase, and switched their phone numbers over to the new carrier.

A week later, they discovered that most of the information was a complete lie. The mother had to go up the chain of command to work at getting the issue resolved. I think they are still working on it after several months.

Because of that interaction, I don’t believe I convinced her what that person did was not indicative of a real salesperson.

Dictionary Definition

The dictionary lists a dozen different ideas defining selling.

Here is the dictionary definition of selling:

verb

gerund or present participle: selling

  1. give or hand over (something) in exchange for money
  2. persuade someone of the merits of
  3. talk someone into

The first one is technically true, but the second and third are the ones that can lead to that “pushy” moniker playing out. Don’t be pushy.

I frequently think about the act of selling, and my favorite game is to define selling in one word.

It’s not easy, but I believe it gets more to the heart of selling than most. A few I have come up with are:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Knowledge
  • Solving
  • Sharing
  • But what about Trust?

I’m sure if I spent enough time and energy, I could come up with a catchy acronym for these particular words or synonyms, but that is a job for another day. (Wait for next weeks acronym for “questions”)

Listening

I believe listening is the most critical skill in selling. Allowing the customer to know that you understand them. Listening lets you see what problems they are wrestling with and what their feelings are around the issue.

Empathy

Then comes empathy. This emotion allows you to sit where they are sitting, stand where they are standing and walk a mile in their shoes. (enough of that). If you genuinely empathize with the customer, you will have their best interest at heart. You can feel their frustration.

Knowledge

Without knowledge of their problems or knowledge of the different ways you might help, you are not a salesperson. You must be creative in solving the issue, even if it doesn’t involve you or your product.

I know this is radical, but sometimes the correct solution is not yours. A real professional salesperson will acknowledge this and contribute to finding the right answer. This ups the trust factor, and the customer knows you are a valuable asset.

Solving

People want their problems solved. Period. A person with a broken arm wants a doctor to set the bone and put on a cast. Salespeople have the same responsibility. Knowledge leads to a way to solve their problems. If you can’t solve the issue for them, you are not helping.

Sharing

Convincing and persuading are two words often used in selling. I’m not sure this is the best way. Better to share with the customer your concern, your thoughts, and possible solutions. That is better than the desperation that shows with a lousy salesperson.

Helping

I prefer to help customers any way I can, even if I have to give them someone else’s name and number. They remember and reward your thoughtfulness.

What about Trust?

Trust is huge. However, if following the previous thoughts hasn’t built trust, something else is wrong. Either you weren’t listening or didn’t ask the right questions. Time to rewind and start over. More on this in the coming weeks.

Oh, and practice, practice, practice. It’s the only way.

Categories
Information Life

How’s Your Attitude?

How’s your attitude? Is it good, bad, or somewhere in between? Do you have a “Can-do attitude?”

I wonder about things like this.

What percentage of “success” does a positive attitude bring? What is the relationship of your attitude to successfulness? Does a positive attitude mean I’m happy and cheerful? Or is it a measure of meeting my own goals. Must you always be upbeat, friendly, and bubbly to become successful?

How important to success is a great attitude?

The experts say a good, positive mental attitude is essential to a person’s success. However, we all know a lot of grumpy people that appear successful from the outside looking in.

Then that brings up the question, what is success? How do we measure attitudes and success?

We are told success is defined individually. Each person defines their own flavor of what is success.

What is your definition of success? I’m interested.

Categories
Business Life Sales

That’s Not Fair

That’s Not Fair!

Fair. What is fair? Is there a requirement for fairness in the workplace? Does it exist in the world?

The definition of “Fair” is not very informative.

in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.
“the group has achieved fair and equal representation for all its members”

In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.  What does that mean?

And the synonyms are nothing if not interesting—just, equitable, fair-minded, open-minded, upright, honest, honorable, trustworthy.

Let me ask you this, what rules or standards? Who makes the rules? Who defines the standards? And then there is “legitimate” thrown in. How exactly does that fit with the definition?

If I set a standard height requirement of 6’0″ for entrance, is that fair? It is the standard I have set for admitance, so it must be fair.

Why Do I Ask the Question?

It seems the rally cry of the last few years is that “things” aren’t fair. Jobs, education, and finally life is not fair to expectations.

Is Fairness the Goal?

From my viewpoint, fairness is not the ultimate goal. They want special treatment, extra privileges,

Am I off base or right on?

Categories
Cars Life Lessons

A Real Bucking Bronco

The bucking was fierce. Back and forth, up and down. Then, as quickly as it began, it quit. Once again I failed to meet the challenge. But I was determined. Again and again, the bucking continued until I rode to the metaphorical buzzer.

LRH-7thGrade_age13_Canyon_1964.jpg

I was thirteen years old and all I thought about was cars. In Texas, a drivers license was freedom from riding the bus to school every morning. And a Texas license was available at age fourteen. It was time to learn how to drive.

For several years, I’d watched Dad drive his old ‘57 Chevy pickup with ease: starting, shifting, braking. His use of the clutch was an art I hoped to learn. Our two family autos had a three-speed transmission with what is now called, three on the tree. We just called it a manual. The clutch was the trick and learning it was the challenge.

Summer Weekends were Family Time

We spent almost every weekend the summer of 1964 on Buffalo Lake—skiing, boating, and fishing. With both Mom and Dad working full time jobs during the week, the weekends were family time. Mom would get home first on Friday evening and begin preparations. When Dad got home, we would hook up the boat trailer to his pickup and then I cranked the handle down to the hitch on the ball attached to the rear bumper.

The drive to the lake took about an hour, then we set up the tent and launched the boat in plenty of time to watch the beautiful Texas Panhandle sunset. A little night-time fishing and then off to bed in our big Army-surplus tent.

On this particular weekend, Dad asked if I was ready to solo. I knew exactly what he meant and immediately agreed. The area around the lake was the perfect place to learn to drive, and Dad tossed me the keys to the pickup and said “Don’t hit any trees.”

His pickup was not the kind you see on magazine covers with brilliant paint jobs and plush interiors. No, this was Dad’s work truck. It was that strange bluish aqua color so popular in the late fifties. The interior was plain and well-worn, and smelled like a welder’s truck. Grease, welding rods, burned gloves, and there was normally a welding helmet on the floor board. 

It was one of those days we dream about. The sun was warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was still early enough in the season so the lake was not crowded. A perfect day to learn.

Determination Won the Day

I was determined that I would learn to drive the pickup that weekend. Coordinating the clutch and gas pedal more difficult then I expected. More gas, slower on the clutch … more bucking, and another stalled engine. Again and again, until finally …

The first time I got the pickup going without killing the engine, I crept along in first gear, slowly keeping the pickup in the ruts which ran through the trees. In some places, the tree branches reached out from the side of the trail, encroaching on the narrow set of tracks. Some of the trees were bois-d’arc, with branches of sharp, sword-like spikes reaching out to poke and scratch. Dad’s pickup suffered from that day under my control, but he didn’t mind. He spent most of the morning laughing loudly. I believe he was having as much fun watching as I was learning.

Finally, I was getting the right combination of gas pedal and clutch pedal to get the truck moving.

Continuing Challenges

Then came the next goal… shifting into second gear. Another challenge to overcome, that took several tries, but ended in success. Since the truck was all ready moving, second gear was a simpler task. I never needed third gear that weekend, but knew I could win that one, too.

That weekend, I learned to drive a standard transmission without burning up the clutch and later, Dad would work with me on the back roads around the house to make sure I understood all that was involved in driving. Checking the mirrors, paying attention to the gauges on the dash (yes, gauges, not lights), and watching in all directions for the unexpected.

It was the best summer of my life.

My Life with Cars

Looking back, cars have played an important part in my life and this is one of the chronicles of my life. There will be more to come.