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Sales lessons are business lessons and ethics lessons in disguise

by | 5 minute read

Inspiration for this lesson: At one of my early retail sales jobs, my boss said to me, “We’re a neighborhood, boutique store and rely on repeat business and word-of-mouth reputation, and referrals.

Don’t convince anyone to buy something that doesn’t work for them, and always help them find the BEST solution for themselves, so when they leave they can’t wait to tell all of their friends.

If you send them home with something that is not flattering, they will soon find out – it will sit in their closet and they will never return. Worse, they will tell all of their friends.”

I realized each sale was way bigger than just one sale. Each sale would determine the customer lifespan, and their potential referral business. That first lesson set the foundation for every sales position I held.

Your ethics, better defined as the way you conduct business internally and externally, creates the culture within your company. That culture is the foundation upon which employees and leadership take actions both on their behalf and on behalf of the business.

Those business and personal ethics lead to an executed business strategy, and it must be clearly defined so that all who are implementing it both understand it and agree with it.

Everyone must play by the same set of standards and guidelines.

In today’s social society, you can no longer “get away” with anything – poor quality, high pricing, poor service are no longer tolerated and are reported for all to see. Your “reputation truth” is exposed in under 20 seconds on anyone’s smart phone. If you don’t buy quality or don’t manufacture quality, you can never sell quality. If you don’t love to serve, you can never serve with quality.

And in today’s social world, the repeat customer, the recommended customer, and the referred customer are the heart of business success.

Here are the secrets to reputation, repeat customer, recommended customer, and referral:

• Transfer your genuine belief. Keyword is genuine. If you love and believe in your products and services, you should have an easy time transferring your passion. Turn your customers into believers, and they too should have an easy time transferring their passion and making referrals.
• Concentrate on helping, not making commissions. If you concentrate on helping customers and you demonstrate you have their best interest at heart, you will earn their trust. Trust leads to long-term relationships. Trust leads to repeat business. Trust leads to referrals. Commissions will follow automatically.
• Don’t sell someone something they don’t need, or something that won’t help them or they won’t benefit from. In other words, only sell something that you believe helps the other guy. Here’s the reality: If they get home and realize they really didn’t want it, need it or won’t benefit from it, you will be blamed in seconds and your business reputation will be at risk.

And the most important secret is the positive-negative. Many salespeople try to look like heroes by putting down the customers to build themselves up. A positive-negative builds the customer up and creates positive anticipation.

There’s no anxiety. There’s no feeling of pain. Only good thoughts for “what’s next”.

Old-world sales experts try to find pain and create discomfort. This leads to a pressured sale rather than a pleasured sale. This leads to worry rather than happiness. The salesperson is on the opposite side of the fence from the customer and must manipulate their way to the sale.

When you create positive language all the way through the sale, then there’s a positive ending without remorse. Interestingly, there’s a phrase that says “good to great” and that’s strangely missing from the book. “This looks good, but I have something great, or I have something even better that will look great.”

RULE OF CONNECTION: You don’t offer a comment to start this process, you ask a question.

For example, if you’re in retail and selling clothing you might ask:

  • How do you feel?
  • How do you think you look?
  • How comfortable are you?
  • Where do you picture wearing this or using this?
  • How do you think this fits with your style?
  • What do you think your mom would say?
  • What do you think your best friends would say?

PLEASE NOTE: You’re not trying to talk the customer out of a sale, rather you’re trying to harmonize with them and get them to want to buy.

The customer may already be thinking about some of these questions, and your questions help facilitate their answers. Your job is to create open dialogue about what customers are thinking whether you’re selling clothing or copiers. This will put them at ease, create truth and allow you to serve them and help them BEST.

Serve and help, not sell.

PERSONAL SALES EXPERIENCE: When I worked in retail, helping and questioning were my natural instincts. My positive responses were attitude driven, not sales driven. If you’ve ever wondered what role attitude and questioning plays in sales, the answer is one word: primary.

If you want to win the culture war, take this short test to define and measure your ethics and actions:

  • What is your personal ethical standard?
  • What is your company’s ethical standard?
  • Do you sell first or help first?
  • How would you define your company culture?
  • How well do your people communicate internally?
  • How well are your people trained?
  • What is your go-to-market strategy?

Ethics and culture are not just corporate, they are VERY personal.
It’s not just the company, it’s their leadership and their people.
It’s you.

 ©2017 Jennifer Gluckow and Sales in a New York Minute
www.SALESinaNYminute.com • Jen@SALESinaNYminute.com

Jennifer Gluckow
Jennifer Gluckow has northeastern smarts and New York City savvy – a rare combination that has her positioned as the next big thing in sales. Okay, she’s not ALL New York. She’s traveled the world, was educated in the Midwest, and has spoken to audiences from coast to coast. Jen’s Zen is her ability to remain poised, calm, and ready in a business environment where speed is a prerequisite, and chaos is commonplace.