Why do we fear sales…better yet, why do we fear being salesmen?

The two are tied together. We don’t want to be salesmen because we know how we TREAT the sales guy. He comes to the door: we fake not being home. He calls on the phone and we give every excuse to hang up. Why would we subject ourselves to be the person knocking or the guy who dials?

Dear #millennials, welcome to the new world. Chances are, you’re going to have to dabble in sales sometime in your life if you want to move up in marketing, advertising, business development, or similar statuses. Forget being a c-level executive if you don’t know sales.

Why do we hate them so much? A sales guy is the person that literally wants to introduce you to a new product or service that will make your life easier, cheaper, or just plain better.

Why does the term “sales” send us screaming away?

Scenario 1:
As a young person, there are inevitable bills that you have. You need to make sure you have money to pay your bills and the thought of working hard and not having money come in for your effort is scary. Let’s face it, you can work hard, call all day and pitch a service or product, but if you didn’t do it right, you didn’t close and you didn’t make any money.

Pick an area that you really truly love. If you asked me to sell car parts I wouldn’t know where to start, I wouldn’t know how to answer questions, I wouldn’t know what the parts were worth; what parts were valuable to a customer…you get the picture. But if you ask me a question about branding and corporate identity, I could talk your ear off about what’s good for your company. I would be able to hash out what’s worth your money and what isn’t worth your money.

Scenario 2:
We all hate receiving the phone call during dinner trying to sell us something hokey. We don’t want what you’re selling, and we don’t have the money to buy it even in we wanted it.

Being in business sales, aka B2B sales, aka inside sales is much different than cold calling a stranger who has no idea who you are or what your product is. Yes, you are cold calling a stranger, but it’s often someone who is INTERESTED in what you are selling. Your list is often ‘targeted’ and the leads are introduced because the buyer is within the ‘industry’ you are selling, and there is a true interest. Your job as a salesman is to tell them why your service or product is worth it. Your goal as a salesman is to prove ‘value’ in what you are selling and to truly help the person you are selling to. If you have no faith in your service or product that you are pushing, you probably won’t do very well.

Scenario 3:
We all have a fear of the ‘car salesman’ who upsells us on products we don’t need. Who wants to be THAT guy…the person called in and bought a service or product and now the upsell has ruined the experience and there’s buyer’s remorse.

Let me be the next person in line to repeat: you don’t ever have to buy what you don’t want to buy. But I’ve shadowed a few car sales guys in my day, and truly, the upsell is there to make you, the company, and the vendor some extra money, but the car guys really do believe in their upsells and that they hold value. Besides, there are some people out there who are LOOKING for the extra bling add-ons. This is an example of not imposing your own values to the customer or client. Just because YOU don’t want the perks or can’t afford them doesn’t mean the customer or client doesn’t want the premium versions. It’s your job to bring it up and introduce it…if you didn’t you would be denying the client an offer or service they might really like; and could benefit from. Also note, the upsell is sometimes cheaper when bought all at the same time versus ‘after market’ in which if the customer decided to come back they would have to pay more for the same service. If you didn’t tell them that to begin with…trust me, it’s not a pretty conversation when the customer comes back and said the sales rep never told them it would cost more LATER.

Scenario 4:
No one likes to hear no. It’s just a bummer to our day. We go get coffee and they’re out of caramel syrup: life sucks. We get on the phone and ask for the money, and we not only get told no, but we get a mild a$$ chewing from the customer on the phone about WHY he said no. (as if hearing no is not enough).

Alas, no is part of life. No is a part of #adulting. As we get older and grow wiser, we learn that no is a part of the process. There are many reasons people say no: it’s a bad day at the office, they woke up late and the boss hates them for coming in late, sales weren’t up to par this month, and they too did not get caramel syrup because the coffee shop was out and now ANYONE who calls on the phone is going to get a hearty no because their coffee sucked this morning. There are hundreds of reasons that people say no, and most likely…it has NOTHING to do with you. (most likely: there are times when it does have to do with you). When you start to get good at sales and dig deeper, you’ll hear a lot of ‘underlying things’ that point to why the buyer/customer/client said no. The better you get at ‘hearing between the lines’ you’ll get better at closing the sale. You’ll know that you should call back, or perhaps you’re not talking to the right person. Just remember, that EVERYONE in the business hears no.

Scenario 5:
You just can’t trust a sales guy. They’re just plain shady. Who wants to be labeled like this? Who wants to live their life being the ‘shady sales guy’?

Look, sales guys solve problems. A mom has a problem keeping her kitchen clean, the sales guy selling kitchen rags helps solve that problem. As a sales guy selling kitchen rags, do you believe you are solving this problem, or do you believe that you are ‘taking all of mom’s money’ without her knowing?

Being a good salesman means listening to the client, understanding what they need, understanding where the gaps are in their business, and then ‘solving their problems’ and helping them understand your service or product helps ‘fill in the gaps’ in their business. If you approach sales this way, you’ll maintain transparency and will avoid being pushy…and for gosh sakes, don’t lie! If you don’t know or your product or service doesn’t do what they need it to, just say so.

Scenario 6:
No one treats the sales guy as a professional.

Then leave that company. There are MANY companies out there that understand sales is the life blood of their business. If you are in a company that doesn’t treat a sales person with that respect, you should be looking for another company that treats you as a professional. Whether you make sales a career path, or decide that sales is not for you, sales is the only way companies can stay in business (nothing…NOTHING, sells itself). If the company you are in treats you like you’re a churn and burn opportunity, ride that pony till it drops while you look for something better.

Next time you come across a salesman, remember what it takes and treat them with a little respect. 😉