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How To Stand Out In Sales (for the right reasons)

How To Stand Out In Sales (for the right reasons)
March 14, 2018

How to Stand Out in Sales (from the guy who was thrown out of his first solo sales call)



When I tell you I’m a salesman, what comes to mind?


Be honest.


Yes, I’d like your answer to be a positive one. But I’m also a realist and I know that there will always be a handful of salespeople out there, giving us a bad rap.


Everyone I’ve asked has their own sales-related scandal to tell. And, predictably, many of these tales begin with elaborate speeches and end with outlandish promises (that never materialise).


The bad news is, that in sales (just like everywhere else) if something seems too good to be true - it probably is. Whether you’re negotiating your next big deal in the boardroom or replacing the double glazing in your house, the last thing you need from your salesperson is to be let down.


We’ve all been buyers at some stage (yes, even us seasoned sales-folk). And today, our buyers are being sold to almost relentlessly. Whether that’s through television ads, social media or an advert on the side of a bus shelter - the modern buyer’s attention is constantly up for grabs. As a result, buyers are becoming extremely discerning and so building genuine, personal connections is more important now, than ever.


So, how do you break away from old stereotypes and stand out as a salesperson - for the right reasons?


How I Became An Outstanding Salesman


To answer the question, I only have to look back at my own experiences as a buyer. It’s amazing how many times I was promised the earth and convinced that I was a valued customer - only to find that this wasn’t the case. No matter how big or small the deal was, it always left me feeling angry and betrayed.


Today, I’m busy delivering sales and negotiation training to a wide range of businesses in many diverse industry sectors. But like most people who’ve enjoyed success in their field, my early days were a different story.


I was physically thrown out of my first solo sales call.


It’s true. But I don’t regret it. And here’s why.


Picture the scene. I arrive - green as the grass, keen as mustard and dressed to impressed (no, I wasn’t a farm-fresh salad box) on the steps of a small retail store, in the centre of Edinburgh.


Unfortunately, my fresh-faced optimism was to be short-lived. I politely introduced myself to the manager, declared my business and named my employer.


Before I could so much as shake his hand, the manager (who was a good foot smaller than me and twice as wide) turned a violent shade of red, let out a roar and leapt at me from behind the counter.


“What’s wrong?” I cried, flabbergasted, as I was manhandled back out onto the busy street.


“Ask the last guy!” was his only reply.


I never did find out.


But, I went back to the shop – several times.


And each time, the surly manager barely looked at me and, in no uncertain terms, told me ‘where to go’.


Making Progress


It took six months and six ‘character building’ visits, but, eventually, I made it over the threshold once again. This time, the ruthless shopkeeper allowed me to show him my products and rattle through my latest promotions, before showing me the door. He still wouldn’t buy.


Every time I walked into his shop it got harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other. I started to wonder what I was doing. Ten months after our first encounter, I walked into his shop once again. I felt that familiar sinking feeling as his steely eyes met mine,


“God, you again? I thought you would have given up by now.”


I didn’t have any witty sales-patter or even a good-humoured retort to fill the void. But to my surprise, it was the steely faced manager who broke the silence,


“Right, what’s your minimum order?”


I was astounded. A buying signal if ever I’d heard one!


He gave me an order for 10 cases that day.


And after that, I went on to do business with him for the next six months until I was promoted to a new role. When I relayed my story to the new salesman, who took my place, he told me he’d had no trouble with this customer - who was still one of his best, 12 months later!


A Lesson in Sales from My Most Difficult Customer


But what did I learn about sales from my red-faced adversary?


Yes, I learned not to give up. But more importantly, I learned that before you ask a customer to hand over their hard-earned cash, you’ll have to give them a damn good reason to trust you with their money.


Trust is built on the way you behave - not on what you say.


It takes more than a polished sales pitch to gain a person’s trust. If you lack confidence when selling, it’s important to remember that your actions can have a real impact before you even get through the door.


Selling with confidence requires a combination of product knowledge and communication skills. But the most successful salespeople I know are the ones who show up consistently, giving their customers 100% confidence that they will deliver.


To this day, I have no idea what the ‘last guy’ did before me. Whatever it was, it made my job ten times more difficult. But the hardest part wasn’t selling my company’s product, it was repairing that relationship and building a level of trust. And for that, you don’t need any fancy sales patter, you just need a thick skin and a good pair of walking shoes.


Want to start selling with confidence? Just like any other ability, the skills you need to be a successful salesperson can be learned, practised and perfected. At Sales Coach Scot, our sales training packages can be tailored to include one-to-one sales training and group workshops, covering everything from selling for the ‘non-salesperson’ to advanced negotiation skills to help your team secure those big contracts. Get in touch to book your session.

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