Selling is not just a separate part of business – it is THE business. Everything eventually becomes part of the selling process.
Many years ago I never thought I would say this, but now I can, with real belief, say – selling is great.
My initiation into selling was in retail. I, along with my business partner, had a high end retail store selling exclusive interior accessories to a very demanding clientele in Toorak, Armadale and Malvern in Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs.
It was a great way to get to understand the essentials of selling – this clientele had seen everything around the world, and wanted an unbelievable amount of attention for the purchase of the smallest object. In fact I can remember at the end of a very quiet retail week, just as I was about to close the store a woman came in and was very interested in an Italian platter. But she needed to see it in her living room!
Determined to make the sale I drove around to her house and spent the next hour placing and replacing the platter. Yes, I did sell the platter, but it taught me a very sound lesson about selling. It requires persistence and often a high degree of persuasion.
At the time I owned this store I was also doing an MBA at Melbourne University and I was fascinated by the degree of difference between theoretical and real business.
By the time I started the direct selling business Pola, I had had some experience in sales, but because it was now to be a truly direct experience – no retail counter to come between the customer and myself – the first efforts were daunting (no doubt for the clients as well as myself).
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Over the next 16 years in that business and still today, I keep learning about the art and science of selling. It is truly a demanding, challenging and rewarding area of business, and yet so many CEOs I work with avoid selling wherever they can.
It seems this avoidance comes about because they don’t see themselves as sales people. My contention is that in life and business we are continually selling ourselves, either people buy your point of view or you buy theirs.
I was extremely fortunate to have a great mentor in this area and I have to mention this every time I talk about selling. Without him, I could not have succeeded in building a very successful sales-based business. So a few ideas for everyone – salespeople or not.
- Every day you have to sell – either yourself, your product or service, to someone.
- Understand that selling = relating.
- If you want to achieve anything in life you have to relate, unless you are some kind of genius and simply don’t need to sell/relate.
- Selling is just part of daily life, but there are a few pre-requisites.
You need to like people.
You need to believe in what you are selling.
You need to believe in the value proposition.
You need to believe in yourself.
You need to have integrity.
You need to be prepared to learn every day.
You need to understand that everyone is different and needs to be treated differently.
- And don’t forget the platter – and the power of persuasion.
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