By the time I was ten years old, I was fascinated with business and sales success. The stories of some adults doing well while others were needing to quit always fascinated me. I would wonder what the differences were between those succeeding and those who were not. My guess was personality is a significant piece, but I was curious about the other contributing factors.
When the opportunity arose to sell Girl Scout cookies and potentially earn a new bike, I was all in! I was only allowed to knock on doors in my neighborhood with a parent watching in the background. The experience was a precursor to my early sales jobs knocking on doors in the territory.
Sales Lesson: Unless we put ourselves all out by contacting as many people as possible, the new red bike or President’s Club will never be ours.
Experience for Successful Negotiation
One negative response always stayed with me. As the front door opened, I smiled, introduced myself, and proudly presented a selection of cookies for purchase.
The woman’s response was, ‘Oh, I would love to support you, but I’m no longer allowed to eat sugar.’ I stopped to take in her words. I quietly stood on her doorstep, taking the time to interpret the verbiage from my perspective. Puzzled, she asked if I was alright.
Yes, I said, but I have a question. ‘Do you have young grandchildren, nephews, or nieces in your family?’ Surprised, the woman replied, ‘yes.’ I then asked if she thought they might visit more often if she were to keep treats for them in her pantry. Upon hearing the last question, she purchased ten boxes of cookies.
- ‘No’ is frequently a temporary answer
- Ask questions regarding the prospect’s perspective
- Consider input from every angle
- Reframe the matter to the person’s interests
- Gain agreement
Experience in Selling Value
As a teenager, I chose to tutor math for extra income. My name was added to the University roster of tutors while being advised of the ‘going rate.’ Many times, I was called only to be asked, ‘how much do you charge?’ Upon hearing me announce the going rate, the call quickly ended.
Frustrated, I took a chance given there was nothing to lose. Taking the next call, I proudly announced my fee, double that of the going rate. To my amazement, the new inquiry was, ‘how quickly can you arrive to tutor my son?’ The tutoring lasted a long while, the son did well, and everyone was happy!
- Never sell on price
- Distinguish yourself from everyone else
- Sell value
- Deliver your best
- Develop a returning and referring clientele to maintain a full client pipeline
The two experiences were invaluable for my sales career. They taught me that the sale is never about us but about our prospective client. And the sale is never about what we offer because each industry has many competing suppliers.
A distinguishing factor is a person who will question, listen, and clarify. Few representatives will center the conversation on how their prospect’s situation can improve. Reliable follow-up on the promises we make, and what we say we will do, signal integrity. Once everything aligns, and trust builds, the sale concludes.
“Trust is the soul of sales.”