I love selling stuff. I love learning about selling stuff. I’ve had some great mentors, and I’ve learned a lot simply by hitting the streets, working hard, and falling on my face. Of course, there are great books and courses on selling. But there are some lessons on selling that you can’t get from a book, seminar, or app. For some of it, you just have to be open to learning.
One of my most powerful lessons came from a client of mine years ago. I was a young salesperson selling advertising to retailers. One of my clients was an older gentleman who owned a very large jewelry store. It was one of the largest and most prestigious in the area. He had forty or fifty advertising salespeople calling on him every week. Every radio station, television station, and newspaper in the region were vying for his business. Thankfully he liked me and wanted to mentor me in retailing. He would spend extra time every week just talking about business and the ins and outs of retailing.
One week in particular, during my regular visit, he leaned across his desk and said, “Today, I want to tell you something very important. You see, I know why you’re here!” I remember telling myself that he must be crazy. He knows that I visit him every week, as many others do. So what’s the big secret?
So I took the bait and said to him, “Ok, so why am I here?” He quietly leaned across his desk and motioned for me to lean across as well. We were nearly nose to nose as he looked right, then left, as if he wanted to be sure we were alone. He then tells me something that I still think about nearly 40 years later. He said, “I know why you’re here. You’re here to SELL ME SOMETHING, SO GET TO IT.”
His point was that he was a busy man, a business owner with many responsibilities. And yet, many salespeople came to him weekly and just talked. They talked about the weather, the big game, politics, their weekend, and more. They talked, and they talked, eventually getting to the point of why they came in the first place, to sell him some advertising.
His lesson was simple enough. Respect him and his business. I should know that he knows my purpose by allowing me in his door, and he is willing to take the time out of his day to talk with me. He does not have time to talk about my weekend, the game, or the weather. Respect him and get to the business at hand. Once that is done, then and only then, he might want to talk about other things if time allows.
A salesperson can become a client favorite if you just remember that your prospect or client knows why you’re there, and you get down to business first. Now that is respect.