For many, the idea of beginning a career as a salesman sounds less than appealing. We often get ideas of phony friendliness accompanied with a hook, line, and gimmick. I have even said on occasion that I’d rather work as a (insert unpleasant job ideas here) than work in sales. However, fast forward several career moves, and I’ve learned one important lesson—we all work in sales.

In order to explain this conclusion, we will need to briefly explore different career paths and their undenial connection with sales. You begin your day at your local coffee shop, and the barista asks if you’d “like to add a shot of espresso” to your morning drink. Sales. You meet up with an old colleague before work who proceeds to tell you about his new job in investment management, and how “you’re more than welcome to contact” him if you have any questions. Sales. Several hours later you have a meeting with a client, where you explain the “forecast of social media trends” and how your firm would “love to add that to their advertising and marketing package.” SALES.  Even dating and interviewing require you to sell yourself to potential employers or significant others.

So now that we are surely in agreement that all careers lead back to sales, it’s time to start learning how to sell effectively. There are 3 secrets that lead to effective sales, and I am going to share them with you. 

  1. Knowledge and belief- Whatever the product, service, or business, it’s time to research all of the pros and cons. Read reviews, know the stats, and consumer complaints (to be aware of misconceptions or potential rebuttals). Research the competition, and ways you can highlight your point of difference. If you don’t believe in the product, you will need to find reasons why others do. Otherwise, you can come off as insincere (hence the stereotype).
  2. Relatability- Who is the target client? Or perhaps 3 key demographics you’re likely to pitch to? Let’s say it is a 60-70 year old woman to whom you are expected to pitch a wealth distribution package. The best ways to relate to the potential client is by relating to their mindset, and what information they factor into their decisions. Ask some 50-60 year old women in your community if they’d be able to listen to your elevator pitch and provide feedback. This is invaluable, as differences (e.g. cultural or generational) can make or break a sale. Who knew a 67 year old grandma may have never heard of Twitter before?!
  3. Follow through- So the potential client said no, and you thought it was over, didn’t you? Wrong! Once you’ve finished up the meeting or appointment is when the sale ACTUALLY begins. In 2011, the National Sales Executive Association reported that 80 percent of sales are made between the fifth and twelfth contact with a prospect. Several ways to follow through include:
  • Email- A great way to connect quickly with the potential customer (if it feels appropriate). This option is especially useful in industries where decisions are made fairly rapidly.
  • Thank you notes- A handwritten thank-you note is a fast way to make a big impression. Stick to a professional tone, and keep it to a few lines. No one has time to read a novel these days!
  • Follow up call- A quick call with a voicemail some time in the month after the meeting reminds the potential purchaser of your voice and your intent.
  • Schedule another meeting- This would be the time to relay forgotten information, different points, or simply to restate how the product, business, or service can benefit. Don’t give up after one no, but instead respectfully continue to reach out!

Implementing these tactics into your job is a great way to increase success. Without even having to change into a scratchy or outdated salesman suit!