Friday, December 14, 2012

We're all in sales

I was never one to influence someone to buy a product they'll never use. I always thought that a product should be sought rather than be forced upon someone. Same goes for a service, if someone doesn't need that service, why bother trying to sell it to them?

My thoughts of sales changed, slowly, throughout my years as both a consumer and a marketer.
Sales isn't always direct. We inadvertently sell ourselves throughout our lives, and it starts as children. If you don't have children, you may have friends or family members with children and you will notice that they can convince anyone to play with them or buy them what they want. Kids are great influencers.

Also, some seemed to have developed a stigma that influence and sales is negative. These ideas are implanted in us when we start our first job and start making our own money, even as early as childhood when we are taught to be leaders and not to be influenced by others.
We need direct sales. How many times were you unaware of what is available in the market? I have bought some products I didn't even know existed until a sales person gave me the information I needed to make an informed decision.

Of course it's always better to have people come to you for your product or service. But how do people know what you are offering if you don't pitch it to them? In PR, we're constantly doing a pitch, whether we do it directly or indirectly.
That said, we must constantly be on our game... so to speak. I find that if I am not feeling up to 'pitching', I stay out of the game. You never know when you're going to meet your next prospective client.

Embrace influence, positive of course. As professionals, we need to inform our prospects in the service - or in some cases, products - that we offer. You know what you have to offer more than anyone else you know, so don't be afraid to tell everyone.

I have developed some basic sales-like habits that have changed the way I conduct business. If you choose to embrace these suggestions, I'd like to know if you've seen a difference in your interaction with people.

1.       Smile and say Hello - don't just smile, it's creepy.

2.      Ask questions - People like talking about themselves, they will like you if you focus on THEM.

3.      Listen to their answers - don't just hear them. Take mental notes and slip it into the conversation later, they'll be impressed.

4.      Paraphrase - it shows you are listening to them, not just hearing them. People can tell when you're not really interested in their answers.

5.      Remember their name - This may be hard for some people but a good way to overcome this difficulty is to repeat their name and mentally associate it with a physical feature, whether it be their hair, their attire, or a mannerism.
Sales is a skill, it can be taught. It is also derived from a habit of talking to people and focusing on them. Get their attention, make them feel special, and eventually you'll get to your pitch - and SUCCEED!

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