Sales is a dirty word. That's what I always thought. There was no way you would ever catch me in a sales role, in the sales industry, doing anything remotely related to sales. The crazy thing is, I accidentally fell into this industry because I was so attracted to a management development program, that I didn't realize I would start by learning sales. But thankfully, I did start there, because I learned some valuable things. I learned that sales are everywhere and in everything. When you are a server at a restaurant, when you are a freelance photographer, when you're trying to earn extra money by babysitting, you need sales skills! When you're trying to convince your friends to help you move, when you own your own business, when you're a musician, you need fundamental sales skills to accomplish your goals. Because you're either selling a product/service, or you're selling yourself. And I realized that doing sales isn't a bad or annoying thing when you have a product that actually helps a customer! There are some amazing things I learned by having a foundation in sales. I learned to connect with people better. I learned to manage my time and prioritize my tasks. I learned how to handle rejection, overcome obstacles, get outside of my comfort zone, become more confident, and hit goals every day.
When I started my company, I wanted to teach, train, and develop young professionals. I wanted to create an environment where people had room to grow and make mistakes. One where they could be recognized for their efforts, and not passed over for promotions for every reason BUT merit. To be able to do that, I needed an industry that would always be growing and always provide opportunity. Sales. Companies always need more customers, so I thought, if we can be great and generating new business for massive companies, then there will always be room to grow and to provide an opportunity to the people in my company.
So as part of our management training program, we teach fundamental sales skills. And we see who has the biggest potential to move into management quickly by seeing who jumps in to learn it, whether they are comfortable or not. There is no background or prepossessed quality that makes someone better at it than others, just their willingness to learn and to work hard at it with a good attitude. When we see that we know we have someone with huge potential to advance. But because I was one of those people who was extremely uncomfortable with sales when I first started in the industry, I've compiled some sales myths that may help to change your mind if you're like me, and open up opportunities that you didn't know you had.
You have to be pushy to do sales
One of the reasons I never wanted to do sales was because I didn't want to be pushy. I didn't want to make people feel uncomfortable, the way some salespeople made me feel uncomfortable. Shopping for a new car, even at some stores, it seemed like the salespeople never knew when to give me space and not push.
One of the things we teach at our company is a concept called Read, Relate, and Relax. When you are with a customer, you read the situation, their mood, their body language, and what's going on around them. If they are in a hurry, don't waste time. If they are relaxed, don't bombard them by talking fast and throwing a lot of information at them. By being able to read a customer, read the situation, we are better able to relate to them and provide them a more comfortable experience when they do business with us.
2. Sales are hard
I thought that sales belonged to a certain type of people, possessing certain character traits. Super outgoing, quick on their feet, persuasiveness, etc. I thought you had to be great at big presentations and wining and dining clients.
The reality is that there is a basic formula that all sales presentations follow, whether big or small. And we specialize in teaching a very simplified version to everyone who starts in our training program. All of the clients we work with have simple products or services that everyone uses (ie: energy, internet/tv/phone, office supplies, etc), and we only work with clients like that because it allows us to train someone with no experience, and get them up to speed quickly. 90% of the people we hire have no sales experience. We are more interested in developing someone's leadership and management skills because our clients are asking us to grow, and as we grow and open more locations, we promote our own people in higher positions. The 3 core qualities needed to be good at our type of sales are a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a willingness to learn.
3. Doing sales is annoying to customers
I didn't want to bother people. If I walked into their business, wouldn't I be bothering them at work?
Some people are bothered by everything. Traffic, their co-workers, the weather, etc. Some people aren't. The interaction that I create with people will either be valuable to them, or it won't. I made it my first priority to build a relationship with the people I met while in a sales role. What I found was, the more genuinely interested I was in them, the more they liked me. The more they liked me, the more they were glad that I was there. On top of the fact that I had a product that would help their business save money, they were enjoying the interaction. So I learned I could control the tone of the majority of my interactions just by my attitude and friendliness. There will always be people that will find something to complain about even on a sunny day, but if I focus on everyone else, I can create a great experience, and it is a win for everyone.
- Nicole, President of Coast Inc.