The first time I sold something I was 14 years old. They were banana shaped piggy banks that helped us make money for the end of year school trip. I was the one that sold most not because I had a special gift, but because I worked more than the rest. I went out in my neighborhood and knocked on every door. At that time Internet did not exist so there I was with my Shrek kitty face practically begging people to buy one of those cute bananas (I tried everything…the pity face is what worked best :)…
This was the first time that I reflected on sales. And I thought that back then was difficult but I was convinced that the result was only a question of perseverance. If I had covered double the house, I would have sold twice the banana piggy banks. It was just that simple. I was very wrong.
I tested my error 15 years later when I was managing my own company and a sales team that couldn’t sell jack. I did nothing more than ask myself why. We were constantly calling, visiting, inserting publicity in the press and even so, we barely had results. It wasn’t a matter of effort that I can assure you. Our product was a graphic arts’ enterprise management software. 15,000 euros was the lowest price to get out of gate. Considering how needed it was, I couldn’t understand why we hadn’t sold not even one.
It was then when my partner opened my eyes. He said something so simple, “Sell to those that want to buy, Saioa. Find and help them buy what they are looking for”. The logic of an engineer, I thought. It took me a couple of days to process it.
But I felt he was right and his easy argument was the key to it all. Sales are not directly correlated to effort or performance- we had tested that approach. It’s a matter of pure and absolute results. Selling is not finding a victim to coax. It is not convincing. It is not creating need. It is plain and simply, helping people buy.
What graphic arts company in Spain is looking for an ERP? Of those, who is looking for a solution like ours and not another type?
We changed our orientation, with marketing and direct sales we began to look for companies that had intentions of buying a product like ours. The question was very simple: ‘are you looking for an ERP or looking to change your current one?’ The next matter we had to define was who was the person that needed to answer the question. After a great deal of analysis and never-ending weeks of work in our case the only valid party was the general manager of the company (we were focused on small and medium sized businesses) and if he did not reply to the question affirmatively, there was no sale. It was just that simple. Furthermore, the company interested in buying our product was one with an existing ERP (90% of the cases) and wanted a standardized management software without customizations (our focus).
We began calling them the Model Client, searching for them and discarding efforts with those that did not match in that description. We reached a sales quota of more than 90% of the market.
After that my hunger to discover all the mysteries of the sales process hasn’t stopped. Every day, every minute, in every situation I analyze every sale that happens around me. Call me a geek but I love to buy and help others do it. When I buy on the Internet, eat out in a restaurant, upgrade my car or every time I go shopping with my mother. My conclusion is always the same: never sell. If you want to gain the loyalty of a satisfied client, always help them buy. Time and time again. Always help people buy.
What’s the difference? As many would think, selling in the erroneous sense of the word is convincing. We don’t care about the other. Our objective is to give them the product or service with which we make money and we don’t stop pushing it until we get it. There’s a personality type that is a firm believer in selling as convincing (the rational or happy to meet me ones. Another day I’ll tell you about the 4 types of people that exist in the world. The other three types don’t think that everyone else is an idiot and that is why we get better results by helping people buy).
The sellers think that their chatter can entice us and talk endlessly during the entire sales process. They are convinced that at the end we will end up yielding and buying what it is they are offering so they wind themselves up. It is possible that they are right and at the end we buy, but it wasn’t an enjoyable purchase. It is possible that we would have regretted it. All of their effort wasted. We will never trust in them for our next purchases.
And then there is the other seller that really worries about each person. Those that consider it their job is to help people and is honest to say when something doesn’t fit well or what model of a product will work better than another. Those are good sales people, the one that wins your trust because they help you buy all that you actually want. Those that know that their mission is to help you find what you’re looking for and not just putting the first thing on you that occurs to them. It is the one that cares about you and helps you. The one that helps you buy what you’re looking for.
Considering that practically all the situations we encounter throughout the day are sales situations (personal or professional), think: what type of seller do you want to be?
I try to be a good sales person.
I love helping people buy!!!!