Friday, March 6, 2015

The hardest thing in the world today is to convince someone to part from their hard-earned money in exchange of some product or service. Specially in a situation when everyone is in the business of convincing consumers to buy their products or services. Thus, when the process of selling is activated by a set sales pitch in front of prospective customers, a natural protection barrier is raised at a subconscious  level which puts them in an alert mode telling them to be aware of the person before them. This makes the job of a salesman even harder. Under such circumstances a very systematic and professional approach is required to get past these guards and get the job done. Ordinary salespeople fail here.

Selling is normally considered an easy profession by a majority of people entering a job market. So a general understanding is: if you don't have a professional degree or a learnt set of skills, then sales is an option for you. This is the same approach adopted many a times in the teaching profession, which perhaps is in the process of a paradigm shift now, that women sitting at home in need of extra income can suddenly start to teach in a neighborhood school. Thus a few inexperienced, untrained teachers might enter a field deemed as the foundation of a civilised society and end up playing havoc with young minds.

The same is true for all those untrained salesmen who when fail to sell, blame customers, products, company, managers but not even once are struck with the thought of having been the cause of a significant loss in business.

The situation is even serious when it comes to small companies who unlike large corporations do not pay much attention to this important part of the business. In a bid to save cost, they hire sales people without much consideration and end up in a difficult situation of low sales and profits.

So what makes a sales person successful when the criterion to measure performance is very clear? This measurement comes in the form of sales figures. Whenever you ask a low performing sales person the reasons for a dismal performance of the sales department, he will point out deteriorating market conditions, low product quality, high price and lack of support from his company management, but rarely his own deficient aptitude towards sales.

Let's classify salespeople into three main categories:

1. Messengers: these sales people thrive on existing customers who were created into a loyal clientele by their predecessors. They babysit these customers and spend most of their time taking orders and passing those on to the company. However, they rarely focus on acquiring new customers. They find it difficult and time consuming to generate new business.

2. Hunters: these are the people who possess the knack and carry the guts to tap new customers. They don't rely on existing customers and understand the importance of new business development for theirs' and the company's future. They sow the seed that reaps the much wanted  results in the months and years to follow.

3. Camouflagers: these are the sales persons working for successful companies whose products are in demand. They camouflage themselves in their company banner and live in an illusion that they are doing a great job by hitting their targets year after year. Some of them are really good in their game, but many others find it very challenging when they have to work for lesser known brands or companies.

Therefore, it is very important for every sales person entering in this competitive field to devise his or her sales process and practise it thoroughly and consistently, with focused continuous improvement, in ever changing market conditions. Nothing can beat self-learning habits about products, competition, customers and new technologies rather than waiting and depending on others to train them every now and then.

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