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Photo by istock

The Salesmanship Stigma

What is your attitude toward closing the sale? Do you see the closing process as a contest in which you are imposing your will on the prospect? Do you, perhaps subconsciously, view selling as a competition between you and the customer in which, when the customer buys, you win and they lose?

We’ve been talking about the fact, that the purpose of your job is to generate profits for the company by increasing your efficiency. You’ll do that by making more legitimate sales per call, and you’ll do that by providing a superior level of service that it’s unlikely your customers will be able to obtain elsewhere.

That raises the topic of salesmanship.  Many people do not want to be associated with the term “salesman.”

When I ask, “What words do people use to describe salespeople?” people usually respond with derogatory terms, such as,” “slick,” “slimey,” “loudmouth,” “shyster,” “thief,” and “liar.”  Nobody has anything good to say about salesmen and some people absolutely hate salesmen.

Hating all salespeople because of the actions of some of them is a lot like hating all service technicians because of the actions of some of them.  It’s just not right.

Why do salespeople have such a bad reputation?  The answer is they usually deserve it … sort of.

Ninety-five percent of the people who try a job in sales fail, quit and go into another profession.

That means that 95% of the salespeople you’ve ever encountered were not true salespeople.  They were “wannabe” salespeople.  They were people that tried a job in sales, stayed in it just long enough to further denigrate the profession with their loud mouths, their lies, their poor work habits, and their incompetence; then jumped out, leaving the rest of us holding the bag.

Why is the Failure Rate in Sales so High?
Here’s the way things work in this world:  When people have no training, no skills, no experience, no expertise, no discipline, and nothing going for them, they try a job in sales.

Why is that?  Because of the mistaken notion that sales is easy. The phone rings, and you make money. All you need is the gift of gab, know a lot of jokes and be a bit of a B.S.er.

My observation is that most people who failed at sales were failing at everything else they tried, and sales was just one more thing they tried and failed at. My complaint is that they made the rest of us look bad on their way out.

Once they find out this isn’t true and you actually do need to know your product; that succeeding in sales requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline and years of self-imposed practice and training, they quit.

To finish the story, they usually go from sales to painting houses, because that’s easy, too.  Once they find out it’s not as easy as they thought it was, they go into mowing lawns, because that’s easy, too.

Once they find out mowing lawns wasn’t as easy as they thought it was they usually become … my son-in-law.

My observation is that most people who failed at sales were failing at everything else they tried, and sales was just one more thing they tried and failed at. My complaint is that they made the rest of us look bad on their way out.

It’s a shame that so many people who aren’t really even in the profession are the ones that are destroying its reputation.

Being in Sales is Not a Bad Thing
It’s up to you whether you’re one of the good salespeople, who contributes positively to the profession, or one of the bad salespeople, who makes people hate salespeople all the more.

Do you, perhaps subconsciously, view selling as a competition between you and the customer in which, when the customer buys, you win and they lose?

What is your attitude toward closing the sale?  Do you see the closing process as a contest in which you are imposing your will on the prospect?

Do you, perhaps subconsciously, view selling as a competition between you and the customer in which, when the customer buys, you win and they lose?

When you run calls, are you trying to figure out how to sell them what you want to sell, or what will be in their best interest to buy?

You Don’t Sell Anyway!

What if I told you that you don’t really “sell” anything to anyone? You don’t really sell … people buy.

You can’t make people buy, you can’t talk them into buying, and you can’t pressure them into buying.

People buy of their own free will.  When they buy from you, it’s because they made the conscious decision that they wanted all the benefits that the product or service offered, as well as the benefits of using you as their provider.

Defining Service Salesmanship
Many people define salesmanship as, “the art of persuasion.”  I don’t like that definition because it sounds like you’re talking people into buying. 

My official definition of excellence in service salesmanship is the ability to determine what the customer wants to buy, combined with the ability to convey we’ve got it, using the least number of words and in the shortest amount of time possible.

 

Others see salesmanship as the ability to convince people to buy things they may or may not need and may or may not be able to afford, but we make a commission on it.  That is not the way to sell, that is not the way to work, that is not the way to think about salesmanship, and that is not what my training is all about.

My official definition of excellence in service salesmanship is the ability to determine what the customer wants to buy, combined with the ability to convey we’ve got it, using the least number of words and in the shortest amount of time possible.

Other definitions of "salesmanship" are, "communication skills," and "bedside manner."

Bedside Manner?
Since we’re talking about bedside manner, let’s talk about physicians.  Statistics on this are hard to come by, but my understanding is that when people are diagnosed with serious cancer, a large percentage of them initially decline treatment and have to be talked into it, and sometimes almost coerced into it.  For this reason, as part of their continuing education credit hours, physicians can take sales training.

Dentists are some of the best salespeople in the world, and they’re also allowed to take sales training as part of their continuing education credit hours.

We’re in the same boat.  Sales skills are people skills, and people have a terrible time making decisions and doing what is in their own best interest to do, and that’s one good reason why we study salesmanship.

Sales skills will increase your personal income, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but sales skills are also communication skills, and the better your communication skills, the better every aspect of your life gets.

Charlie Greer has seen that technicians and salespeople who keep their own sales log tend to have higher sales, and that those sales tend to increase over time. For that reason, he has developed a weekly planner specifically for HVAC salespeople and service technicians, with weekly sales tips and space to track sales. For more information call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822) or visit him on the web at www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Email Charlie at charlie@charliegreer.com.

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