I've always thought Sales is a lot like dating. Not the transactional selling you find in shops but the complex protracted sales process of selling anything remotely complicated. I did think of an analogy for transactional selling but its probably best not to mention it.
If you wind the clock back to your teenage years when you first wanted to find a girlfriend you devised a plan to get one. The first step was realising you needed to be where there were girls. If you were really lucky your sister would bring her girlfriends to your house creating a captive audience. But for most of us it meant hanging out in bars, clubs etc. In sales the same is true - “we need to be at this trade show – all our prospective customers are hanging out there”.
When you got to the club (sorry trade show) you stood nervously around looking at the girls (sorry prospects) not quite sure what to do next – naievely assuming being there would be enough – you didnt have a sales plan of who you wanted to target and how to get their attention.
Irritatingly there always seemed to be some guy who stood out and the girls wanted. In fact the competition for the interest of the “hot guy” seemed to get him even more girls interested in him. Here is another sales lesson – you need to stand out to get customers to come to you and in fact the more customers that are interested in you, the more attractive you become.
For the majority of us we stood around nervously waiting to pluck up the courage to approach a girl (sorry customer) or waiting for a prospective customer to look in our direction. It is always interesting to see some booths at the trade shows where the boys are huddled together in their booth too afraid to make the advance – as the show comes to a close and the last dance starts to play they look sullen, withdrawn and rejected.
Some are brave enough to venture from the safety and security of their booth and approach some girls (sorry customers) with their one liner chat-up lines, with similar levels of success it must be said to my bar and club one liners. The girls (sorry customers) have a picture in their mind of what they want – they might need you but you're not what they want. Here's an important step in dating (sorry sales) you need to interrupt their thought process to stop them thinking about what they want. Confusion is a good strategy for breaking their thought process for a few seconds to get their attention. Hesitate and their old thought process resumes and your toast.
Some girls (sorry customers) might be interested to hear about your Ferrari (what's in it for them is to be seen in a Ferrari – so does that mean they are really going out with the Ferrari or you?).
Some girls (sorry customers) have a specific problem they need solving so are more receptive to solutions that might present themselves. “I'm a teenage single mum – I really need someone to look after me....he looks alright, might have a bit of money, a job and a car...I'll take him”. Not a great deal of selling there, you just happened to look a reasonable fit to their needs.
As your sales experience improves, and you are more confident doing the initial approach (sorry cold calling) your tolerance to rejection improves. There's plenty more fish in the sea – it's just a numbers game – ask enough girls for a date and you'll find some that want to place an order.
You're meeting your quota but you're boss (sorry mum and dad) is not happy with the quality of deals you're bringing home. They really want you to find the big life changing deal.....
To be continued.