Just like a good Christian, all good salesman follow their commandments … or do they? If you ask any faithful Christian, “What are the ten commandments?” They’ll rattle them off without missing a breath. They know the correct order, and they know the purpose behind each commandment. So what about your salesman? Do they even know the four basic sales commandments?
- Meet and greet
- Overcome objections
- Ask for the sale
While these steps are broken down into their most basic tenets, they are presented in various “Sales Success” books in a variety of formats.
- Lead generation
- Build customer relations
- Define customer concerns
- Address product solutions
- Modify/amend solutions
- Close the sale
The trouble with breaking down the four basic tenets above into a laundry list of “steps for success”, is that it’s easy for your salespeople to get lost in the translation. KISS, one of the best sales acronyms, is great advice for guiding your way to a successful sale. Keeping It Simple, Stupid (KISS), helps you guide your sale, and not get lost in all the minutia of sales steps. For this article, let’s take a look at the first step:
Meet and Greet
Clearly, we can’t even begin to greet someone until we know who they are first. Finding good leads is always about networking within our industry community. Of course, social networking has tremendously improved our abilities to network and finding our contacts in today’s open society has never been easier. While lead generation is often times a salesman’s job, it is far more beneficial for both the company and the salesman, to separate these disciplines into marketing and sales. When you have a good salesman, you want them in front of people, not sitting behind a desk. The more time they spend selling, the more sales they make. It’s just that simple because sales is a numbers game.
While every customer your salesman meets will not make a sale, it is important that they make that contact. We can’t avoid trying to sell to a customer that’s already buying a competitor’s product, but we can make a good impression. Because as sure as I’m typing this article, your competition is faltering and stumbling for a variety of reasons.
Take Sears & Roebuck as an example. Eighty years ago, Sears & Roebuck had such a vast and diverse company catalog, that you could order an entire house! I’m not referring to just the furnishings, I mean the whole house! You just ordered your home from their catalog, and a few weeks later, your home, at least all the boards, nails, roofing and trim, would arrive at your job site. They were typically not large luxurious homes, but they were affordable for many across the country. Fast forward to today, and Sears is perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy. Why? Because they shifted their entire business model away from offering solutions, to offering only products. They had it right to begin with, but now their struggling just to exist. Imagine where they would be today, had the original owners, and their business vision, guided the company all these years. Would there even be a Home Depot, or Lowe’s? Not very likely. We’d all be walking into our local Sears & Roebuck for our lumber supplies, and updates to our Sears & Roebuck home.
Company personnel change all the time, it’s the one constant you can count on. One day you’re doing business with Home Depot, the next you’re doing business with Lowe’s. Both companies have exactly what you need, but the salesman makes all the difference. So the moral is, always stick with a solid marketing plan and never let a potential customer down. Even if it means the sale won’t happen for 5 years. All of this is your “meet” plan.
Ask anyone what they want to see from a stranger, and the unanimous answer is always, a nice smile. Once you introduce yourself, over the phone, social networking, or referral, it’s inevitable, you’re going to greet them. This is where your salesman need to shine. I mean that literally. If your company sells industrial parts, then they must dress the part. If your company sells high performance parallel super computers, then they must dress for an entirely different part. Either way, your salesman must have the proper “greet” criteria. And while this seems obvious to some, I’m not kidding when I say that the “first impression” is by far, the most important! Questions that every company must ask are: What’s a proper dress code? What does our customer expect? Where do we conduct business? How much time is required?
First impressions are everything, and if your salesman doesn’t fit the part, than you’re throwing money away. It’s vital for a company to know what a customer expects, and to dictate the proper dress for the part. Why? Because we all judge people from the very first moment we greet them. It’s a natural human reaction. It’s not going to change, and therefore the company needs to take responsibility and establish a proper dress code. Yes, that means telling women they have to wear skirts, or men they have to wear a tie. That also means that a man can be better suited for a sales position than a woman, and vice versa.
Regardless of the tension a dress code may create with your employees, it’s vital for any company to exceed customer expectations. Let’s look at a couple examples, first we have a contractor supplier that sells construction supplies B2B. To say the least, expecting the sales rep to show up with polished shoes and a “Wall Street” suit, would not likely make for a good first impression. This is clearly a position that requires a toned down dress code that mimics the construction industry. Appropriate boots, not shoes, maybe some popular carpenter jeans, like Pointer Brand, or Carhartt would make for a much better impression. A contractor can relate to this person they’re meeting for the first time. There’s no preconceived notions, and no doubt as to what the salesman is trying to accomplish. Next, we have a corporate salesman that sells plastic injection molded bottles for the beverage industry. These are complex machines, with an integrated supply chain, that require a working knowledge of not only the injection molding process, but also the implementation of such a complex solution. To say the least, your salesman had better be dressed for the corporate culture, with plenty of resources in hand to aid in the sales process. The customer expects them to walk in wearing a fine suit, holding an iPad, and have a polished look to them. Needless to say, strutting in wearing construction boots and jeans will kill your sale before it even starts.
As you can tell, the greet is far more than just a handshake and a smile. While that’s the minimum required, your customer will have preconceived notions of what you, the salesman, should look like. The one ubiquitous feature all salesman must have, is a great smile. Proper grooming and hygiene is vital. However, after your introduction, can you hold a conversation in a closed office? For many, the answer is no. Why? Because your breath is so wretched, it evokes a natural gag reflex. Your breath will kill a sales deal before it even starts. I guarantee the customer is thinking, “He seems like a good guy, but I can’t spend another minute in my office with him.” Your breath, as invisible as it is, can easily make or break a sale. Here are some tips to combat that raw sewage you’re breathing out …
1) When was the last time you flossed your teeth?
- Your teeth get food particles stuck in them every time you eat. It happens to all of us, and you need to floss after every meal. The best solution are to keep these small flossing tools, commonly called “Plackers”, on hand and at the ready. Yes, you will floss after breakfast and lunch.
2) Do you have tonsils?
- If you still have your tonsils, then you have some of the worst breath on the planet. I know, because I still have mine, and it’s a constant struggle. Everyone, whether you’re 12 or 52, that has tonsils, gets tonsil stones. I can’t stress enough that tonsil stones are the most wretched smelling little parasites your body will produce. To understand how bad your breath will be, the only way to describe your breath with tonsil stones, is one of a dead, rotting corpse. YES! It’s that bad!
- To combat tonsil stones you need the following: an electric toothbrush, and hydrogen peroxide. Make sure to brush your tonsils with an electric toothbrush, and always gargle with a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. The hydrogen peroxide will help break down the tonsil stones. I keep a big bottle under my sink, and I just take a sip of water, then squirt the hydrogen peroxide directly into my mouth. You only need to do this every morning and every evening. It’s not necessary to combat stones during the day, unless you know you can feel one. Consistent tonsil stone management will eliminate tonsil stones, but they always come back. Never stop your oral hygiene routine if you have tonsils.
3) Watch what you eat before your greet.
- Most salesman hit the drive-thru before going to work. That’s fine on the days you’re not meeting anyone, but not on the days you’ll be with a customer. Think of what’s in your stomach. You have some dead meat, being dissolved in acid, in your stomach. To say the least, the only thing that can smell worse than this, are tonsil stones! The best solution, even if you find yourself with a customer unexpectedly, Altoids. Make sure you have Altoids in your car, and be sure to swallow them. You don’t eat the Altoids, you swallow them whole. Get the entire Altoid into your stomach and after a couple minutes, you’ll be fine. Swallowing Listerine or Scope, is never a good idea, and it’s not very effective. Liquids digest too quickly and people that drink Listerine or Scope are commonly thought of as drunks. This would not make for a good first impression.
These tips are the common basics for all salesman. Whether you’re dressed in construction boots and Pointer’s, or the latest Hickey Freeman styles, there’s much more to being a salesman than just professing to be one. These hygiene habits above are required, and they must be followed. It takes real work, and you haven’t even made it into the office. Proper grooming and fresh breath are vital tools in your arsenal. You don’t want to underestimate how powerful a good first impression can be. Make sure you don’t create an uphill battle for yourself because of poor personal hygiene.
Sales don’t just happen, they’re engineered. Make sure your first steps are forward, not backward. Every week, I’m going to cover the remaining sales commandments. Please save my profile, and send me a “Connect” request.