Little did I know I would be a sales manager. An econ major, who had a passion for the world of finance, and wanted desperately to manage investments. I got my first “real” job when I was 21 in advertising sales. I thought this would be a good stepping stone to my financial career but had no idea I would be in sales 17 years later and love my job. One thing led to another and I started working for some amazing companies like L’Oreal, Novartis and Dermalogica and had some inspiring managers who paved the path for my career.
I used to think there was a stigma that came with sales. Shady people who say anything for a buck and sell you something for their own personal gain. Perhaps this stigma is what made me successful as internally I fought to overcome this perception.
I still see it today where sales reps go in, talk about their product, don’t ask any questions, talk the clients ear off and leave. This drives me crazy as it is not what sales is about. Sales is about the client. It is about what works best for them. It is about helping them with their business so your product can be successful for them. Below are some quick tips to help inspire any sales professionals out there to be the best they can:
1. Listen. The best sales reps are not the ones who can talk non-stop about their product and spew off hundreds of details of their brand. They are the ones that ask questions. They actively listen and customize their approach to their clients. I was once told that the best sales call is 30% with you talking and 70% with the client talking.
2. Give them ways to help your product sell. Educate them. Show them your brand history/launch details in a presentation. Key word is show – do not just tell. The quote from Benjamin Franklin holds true: tell me and I forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn. If you are just talking about your product with no marketing support or aids, it is in one ear and out the next. Which leads to my next point:
3. Take initiative. If you do not have marketing support, create it. Work on sell through promotions. Come up with sales incentive ideas. Find PR related to your brand and share it. Be the person that goes beyond to own your sales. It’s up to you to ensure the product sells through.
4. Go beyond. Show them you care. Make it personal and relationship driven. Remember their concerns on your next visit and ask about them. Make each visit continuous.
5. Ask for things. Negotiate for prime merchandising space. Ask for clarification on objections. Funnel down the objections so you can have the true objection about why they do not want your product. Most sales people are scared to ask for clarification on things but it is that conversation that is critical to finding out more about your client.
6. You should be comfortable going to see a client without having to sell them something. Create a business review and talk about their business and how we are supporting them. Go in and do some education with their staff. Drop in and make sure they are doing well and ask if there is anything they need.
7. Do your sales analysis. Know who your top 80:20 are. Know who you have lost the most amount of incremental growth with. Work out the numbers and create strategies to move forward. Numbers always tell a story.
I was fortunate to have had some inspiring sales managers lead me onto my path. They taught me what a true sales professional is and motivated me beyond what they know. I hope I can pass the torch on even one tip that could help inspire and motivate another.