How to sell is a question with easy answers

how to sell or not to sell

If you hate selling you’re not alone. The good news is, you can learn to enjoy it. Finding the right buyer for what you have to offer is so much fun once you realize it’s done best with understanding and a desire to help – and a product or service you’re passionate about.

There’s a reason used car salesmen, insurance agents and phone company reps have a bad rap. These industries have traditionally used a manipulative selling approach. You feel bullied and unhappy a purchase that involved such practices. Then vow never to do business with them again.

how to sell or not to sellAnyone who’s bought multiple cars, gone to a mixer or tried to set up phone coverage has encountered someone who thinks selling should be painful for everyone involved.

Of course, it’s unfair to categorize an entire industry. Those that don’t follow SOP can have a vast advantage over their counterparts. If you’re frustrated by predecessors that have sullied the character of your profession, find a way to show you’re different. Check out this post that provides nine quick tips for adopting some of the marvelous selling techniques animals and kids use for ideas on how to start.

You can learn good things from bad experiences

The worst job I ever had was selling Kirby vacuum cleaners (while in college). The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t move these things, it was because I could. Not to the households where this would serve to help preserve valuable furnishings (no shot here – these folks signed up to collect freebies), but to people who couldn’t afford such an expensive piece of equipment. I’d spend more time trying to talk them out of the sale than I did showing the product.

Of course, we had financing plans to accommodate the poorest buyer.

I spent one long month selling these things to capture the guaranteed payment (which, not surprisingly, the company found a reason to negate).

Imagine walking into a filthy trailer home with furniture collected from the curb and leaving them with a $900 vacuum cleaner purchase (in 1982 dollars). I can’t envision anyone feeling good about that. I sure didn’t.

This was my first introduction to manipulate selling. It was the last time I caved when pressured to use such tactics.

Contemporary sales precepts lauded this as a brilliant approach. Everything from how they drew in their reps to closing the sale was carefully designed to lead people to decisions that didn’t make them feel good but captured time and money for the company.

The would-be hawkers invested a full day, uncompensated, prior to knowing what they’d be selling.

Prospecting included an hour demo (that’s how they got me – I ended a couple of calls short of the hour where there was obviously no interest) followed by a call to a manager to close the sale.

Added to this was a ploy by the managers to express duress (ironic that the customer was cited for applying the pressure) then offer a reduced price (good only for the next five minutes). The company never lost anything on these sales. The difference came out of the reps commission.     

Every new recruit was encouraged to sell to family members – for practice (right). Once relatives ran out, many reps were fired.

I’ll never forget that job and how awful it made me feel. I sold four units during my month with the company – all to people who were struggling to pay rent, feed kids and/or buy necessities.

It’s a good thing I had this early experience. It helped shape the philosophy behind a business I created seven years later to help small business owners with marketing.

How to sell so everyone’s happy

These days, particularly with the advent of the impersonal internet, people are seeking meaningful relationships more than ever. It’s not landing the job that’s important, it’s keeping the customer. Those who play the numbers game trolling for suckers rarely survive in business for long.    

No longer can you expect to sustain revenue with flashy ads or the right number of impressions (depending on who you listen to, it’s between 7 and 21 times before they’ll make a purchase).

Understanding who your customers are and giving them what they need makes you more attractive than spin or spam. It takes more time early, but once you build a large enough group of happy clients and centers-of-influence, you’ll get more referral business than imagined.

Keep it real. Keep it honest. Keep it relevant. Those are the easiest answers I know to the question: how to sell?

Do you have a job experience that’s more memorable than any other? Good or bad? Please join in the comments below. Also, be so kind as to click the easy-access share buttons to the left of this post to share your reactions to this blog. Thanks!

8 responses to “How to sell is a question with easy answers”

  1. I’m in sales in real life but finding it a little tricky to narrow down translating it to the Internet. Thanks for a good article.

    • Hi Esther – thanks for stopping over, reading and commenting. Yes – it can be a challenge to integrate the tools of the internet effectively when you’re used to doing things without it, but I think we’re going to see a shift back to face-to-face (if we haven’t already). I’ve found the internet works well for some things, but when it comes to sales (particular for a service) nothing beats personal contact.

  2. I love what you said, Keep it real. Keep it honest. Keep it relevant. I think we are successful when we do this in life. We as marketers need to keep that saying in our heads as well as the buying public.

  3. My husband is in Sales.. and he is someone like you mentioned.. cannot manipulate sales…. he does not agree with people who do.. and the best part is he is always a top achiever in his company.. 🙂 :).. glad to connect to your blog through the UBC

    • It’s so wonderful to hear your husband has shown others how it’s done right by being a top achiever. Good for him! I’m glad to have connected with you as well, SuKu.

  4. Hi Nanette! I definitely read your post tonight. I recently started selling Mary Kay products, and I am all about keeping it real and honest. I will not manipulate anyone into buying something they don’t need, and find it difficult to ‘upsell’ anyone. After reading your post I feel incredibly encouraged. Thanks! #UBC
    Elizabeth T, Early Rise

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