Have You Ever Not Closed a Sale? http://wp.me/p2tIb7-3f #sales #management #manager #leader #leadership #coaching #coach #character #inspire
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The Sales Manager in Me
I have been in professional sales for the last 12 years. I say “professional” because I also had internships during university, waited tables, worked several retail positions…and ultimately “closed” quite a few times as a candidate (selling myself) to land these jobs which required selling skills. Looking back at my childhood, I would say I had salesmanship in my heart all along, but only after graduating & securing that first job with a business card did I label myself as a professional. I can share that I have been successful as a sales professional & leader, based not only on the results shown in my résumé, numbers & reviews, but also on my customer, distributor & external partner relationships & feedback.
The Guest “Sales Expert” Speaker in Me
A couple of years ago, an acquaintance asked me to speak to her Sales 101 Class at the local college she was teaching at about my experience in sales. I was feeling a little nervous (ironically for someone who has literally been on thousands of sales calls), so I asked a former colleague & counterpart to join me. It was great; after 4 years or so of not selling together we didn’t miss a beat. We reviewed the basics in the “sales process“, seamlessly integrating examples & stories, finally getting to Q&A. Lots of great questions, but one stood out.
“Have You Ever Not Closed a Sale?”
You see, the audience was a group of mixed age & mixed background people like aspiring graphic designers, artists, future entrepreneurs with little “professional” experience in sales. It is the only question I remember from that day, to which I first laughed out loud & glanced over to my sidekick before answering,
“Of course. Probably more times than I can count. In fact, I recently coached a person on my sales team that if you are hearing more yes than no in your meetings, you probably aren’t asking for enough from your customers. Good sales people are always looking for more, so keep asking.”
This, of course, is assuming the sales person is closing at all with their customers in their calls, a fear that many young sales people struggle with until they come to terms with the fact that closing (& trial closing) is expected by the customer. A sales person who doesn’t close will eventually lose the respect of their customers & may be viewed as a time-waster because let’s face facts….that is the nature of the business.
The Character of the Manager in Me
For some reason this moment has popped back into my head at many times since then in completely unrelated circumstances, & I wonder how others might respond….you see, I believe a person must acknowledge both easy & hard, success & failure, challenge & obstacle. In other words, state the facts & tell the truth (as a point of view, of course). I wonder what others would say or do when faced with this type of question from a student or young professional getting started, standing in front of a group (potential reputation on the line?) or even in private.
I had a manager at one point in my career who had the tendency to change the recollection of the story depending on the audience, embellishing or eliminating details as needed to gain recognition or resources being sought. Another manager who flat-out changed his recollection of history when things started changing direction or getting tough. As an observer (and an overly upfront & transparent person) I could only guess both were trying to protect themselves: their personal careers and reputations. But as leaders, I lost a little respect for them in these character defining moments.
From the looks on the faces of these students, I believe my answer was a good one. In the end, nobody is perfect; all you can do is try your hardest. Learn, practice, evaluate, improve, repeat.
And remember that the choices we make as leaders reveal the character we choose to show to the world. We may all end up in the same place, but I know which way I’d like to travel;)
Please share your thoughts and connect with me!