I know many knowledgeable salespeople. They’re smart. They know their products and they know their industries. I know many hard-working salespeople. Their intensity and gusto are awe-inspiring.
I know many aggressive salespeople. They’re audacious, yet respectful. I know many cheerful, happy and optimistic salespeople. Their attitude is contagious.
Yes, in 25 years I have met and worked with, trained and led, celebrated and lamented with hundreds, if not thousands, of salespeople. They’ve been colleagues and friends, mentors and students. The most successful ones exhibit many of the characteristics above and their success proves it.
But I can tell you the one common denominator that all of those successful salespeople, past and present share: an unshakable, unbreakable, incurable, steadfast belief in two things: the companies they work for and the products they sell.
I started my career selling copiers. Up and down the streets of Old Town Alexandria [Va.] I strode, deer in the headlights at first, supremely confident after cutting my teeth for a few months. I knew my machines (we called them systems) and their capabilities. I knew their strengths and limitations.
As long as I carefully considered my prospects’ needs, I could provide an honest and worthy recommendation to them as to what system would be best for them. Most of the time, my systems were more expensive than those of the competition, who most always offered a cheaper and less capable product.
In order to accomplish the objectives and workload of my customers, I only recommended systems that I knew would handle their challenges. It was only because I strongly believed in the benefits and value of my product that I could be satisfied that I did the right thing.
When we don’t believe in our product or service; when we know in our heart of hearts that we’re selling an inappropriate solution just to make a quota, or just to collect a commission check; we are cheating our customers, our employers and, most importantly, ourselves.
I firmly believe that a salesperson cannot go wrong by advising a prospect to make the right decision because he or she firmly believes in the product they are selling. But if it’s the opposite, if we cannot muster a sincere confidence in the product and company that we represent, we have no business pawning off a cheap sale on an unsuspecting customer whose trust in us proves to be misguided.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
• Can my product or service truly benefit my prospect?
• Will it do what I say it will do?
• Does my company stand behind it, and behind me?
• Am I bold enough to advise a prospect not to buy if I know he or she will end up only being disappointed?
Can you answer all these questions in the affirmative? If not, I’d urge you to consider the reason why, and take action if necessary.
My job at CES is a mission and it’s one I undertake year after year with great conviction and intensity. I believe strongly in our show and care deeply about our customers, many of whom I share almost 20 years of close relationships with. I know our show helps others and I’m proud to represent such an important and consequential event.
How about you?
Do you believe?
Since 1995, Dan Cole has served as vice president of business development for the International CES and the organization that produces it, the Consumer Electronics Association. He has won numerous awards, including IAEE’s most outstanding sales and marketing executive and the International Business Awards’ most outstanding sales executive.