Whenever I say to someone ‘I’m a salesman’, it seems to put them on their guard. Why? Probably because the reputation of salespeople generally, is framed by the reputation of salespeople in western culture. We’re not know as philosopher poets. We’re infamous for all of the Ponzi, pyramid, get rich quick scandals that we never took part in but which live long beyond their relevance and their real impact. But then again, it is tough sometimes, to balance the pressures of selling great work to customers who really need our products and services, and having to make the sale to meet out targets for the week, month or year. So how do we manage to survive? We either ignore the tension and sell, sell, sell; or we develop some principles.
Principles aren’t rules to be followed slavishly. Rules, as we know are made to be broken. Principles are a collection of thoughts to guide us in our everyday lives, like a magnetic North to a navigator. We know it’s there, we can always use it as a reference, but sometimes we want to go East. But even when we do, we know where North is and we can use it as a reference point nonetheless. Here are a few principles that I’ve learned from others and developed myself that help me steer the course that I think is best for my business in the long-term
#1. Have a life philosophy that emphasizes enduring relationships over cash. This means valuing the relationship more than making your sales target, even though your boss may disagree.
#2. Find out what the customer likes, wants and needs. Then show the customer how to get it. Remember, nobody likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy.
#3. Gather information before writing a proposal; don’t shoot in the dark. Treat information gathering as a conversation, not an inquisition.
#4. Don’t try to be too friendly too quickly, you’ll scare them away and reaffirm the pushy, over-familiar stereotype of a ‘salesman’. Instead, be interested in the customer as a person and let the friendliness evolve naturally.
#5. Don’t push. When you’re making a sale, think end-of-time relationship not end-of-month totals.
#6. Don’t rush to solve the customer’s problem. Instead, let the sale evolve naturally out of the conversation and let the customer discover the solution for herself.
#7. Believe that you and your firm are the best at what you do. If you don’t, get yourself better trained or go and work for a better firm.
#8. Achieve a perfect job of delivering what you promised. This means, at minimum, providing impeccable service throughout and after the sale.