As many of you already know, I recently joined the sales team here at Atilus (March 2015) – yes, I keep track. I’ll tell you first hand that I was terrified beyond belief. Professional selling was never of interest to me, even in college I voided professional selling lectures like the plague. Don’t get me wrong I can be a social butterfly and I love people — to an extent. What terrified me the most was the fact that I had to essentially be “the face” of the Company externally and sell not only Atilus but myself too. Being that I’m 50% extroverted and 50% introverted, the thought of rejection made my stomach churn. What if prospective clients didn’t like me or didn’t like what I had to say?
I will say that professional selling has been a learning curve for me and the experience thus far has taught me a lot about people and business in general. I do believe that every profession needs to experience what life is like in the shoes of a sales professional – it’s not a walk in the park.
Prospective Clients ≠ Friends
My background before I joined Atilus was in customer service and interacting with all sorts of differing personalities. You can say I was actually already in “sales”, but I was actually selling a physical product not a service (big difference). In my prior field I interacted with everyone as If they were a friend of mine, giving them the same respect that I wanted in return. I developed life-long relationships with my clientele, because that’s simply who I am as a person. To give you an idea – I first started working at Lowes as a cashier primarily in the lumber department. I communicated with the same people on a daily basis and became acquainted with a few of the customers on a first-name basis. While I was employed at Lowes, I picked up a second job waiting tables at a local establishment. Those same customers at Lowes became my regulars at the local establishment – and I’m still friends with them today (10 years later). I let people in to my life almost immediately and try to form a bond with literally anyone. Those relationships were EASY then. The relationships I’ve tried to create now that I’m in sales as a profession are not as effortless as they were back then.
Tip #1: You can’t walk into a prospective client meeting and assume that everyone will like you. That individual sitting across the table from you is judging your every move because they are about to invest in you and into the company in which you represent. If you make one wrong move, you lost the sale and the potential relationship. First impressions are everything and you don’t get a second chance at this, unfortunately. Establish a common ground with potential clients and tread lightly. Remember the first initial meeting is all about active-listening. Just because I’m naturally enthusiastic, positive, upbeat, and outgoing, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will like me right off the bat!
Respect Is Not Given It’s Earned
Yes, the first stage of any sale is building rapport. I think most salespeople will agree with me that building rapport is one of the most critical skills a sales pro can develop. One must also note that rapport is not built just in that first meeting, rapport is built throughout the entire relationship, as is respect.
I’ve observed that sales professionals are treated as “second class vultures”. I was raised to always respect others and to treat others with the same respect that we have for ourselves. This has been one of my biggest disappointments – “the biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations.” I’ve always assumed that respect is automatically given, when in all reality when you are in sales respect has to be earned.
I’ve sat down in meetings where the individual across from me has zero interest in what I have to say and is immersed in their smart-phone and nothing else. How do you proceed, when all you are trying to do is earn their respect? Because of my personality traits, this is one of my biggest challenges. How do you earn the respect of someone that doesn’t respect you initially? I knew in this meeting that I lost the sale the second I walked into the room – I made the wrong move and their first impression of me resulted in them not giving me the respect I think I deserved.
Tip #2: With time comes confidence, something I’m still working on internally. Confidence can make or break your performance. I’ve had moments where I lacked sales confidence and moments where I felt as if I was the king of the jungle. People RESPECT those that walk into a room with a high level of confidence and the body language and the physical presentation to prove it.
Never, Ever Assume
Never, ever assume you got the sale. I’ve learned this the hard way. A meeting will be going great [in my opinion] and at the end of the meeting I’ll ask the prospect what they would like next steps to be, in which they respond with “I’d like to see a proposal”. In my mind that means they were interested with what I had to say and had established a level of “trust” in me that I would deliver a solution that will speak to their pain points. When it comes time for the proposal presentation, the client leads you to believe that you’ve sold them and they speak as if they are genuinely interested in pursuing next steps, which is agreement signing.
Tip #3: A sale is never official until you have a signature. I’ve had many and I mean many instances where I’ve shaken hands with a prospect and they have verbally committed to working alongside us and then they disappear – why is this? Let’s be honest, any investment scares people – especially a large investment that potentially will grow their business online. With any investment comes risk and risk is what sends people running. Also, I’ve noticed people can’t simply say “No, I’m no longer interested in the services you have to offer.” Instead prospects would rather fall off the face of the earth then tell a sales individual that they are pursuing other options. Why do we as sales professionals have to pull that out of prospective clients? I genuinely hate being that annoying “sales girl” that keeps calling and that keeps following up. But in the end all I want is a yes or no.
The Biggest Sales Tip
The biggest sales tip that I have for any individual that is about to pursue a sales profession is to always be true to yourself and never be someone that you are not. Don’t ever put on an act just to please the person that is sitting across from you. Sales professionals are not meant to close every sale, there are times where we are just not a good fit for the client at hand – and that is totally normal. Just believe in yourself and you will move mountains!
As I mentioned above, my experience has been a learning curve and I genuinely enjoy being the New Client Specialist here at Atilus. Each and every person I’ve met along the way has taught me something new that has made an impact on my career and in life. To the clients that believed in me and in Atilus, Thank You!