3 Life Lessons from a Salesman
I was a salesman for a full three months and enjoyed the work. I sold knives or as I like to say swung blades. In general the work was pretty easy. Actually, calling people and trying to hold their attention long enough for me to ask if I could do a presentation proved difficult sometimes, but once the appointment was made, it was smooth sailing. Going to people’s homes and talking to them about why Cutco knives are the best took about an hour, and people usually would agree with me and make a purchase which was awesome. The experience I gained from being a salesman has helped hone my communication skills in a tremendous way. Also, the interactions I had with my managers were invaluable for gaining proficiency in being a good salesman. The three lessons that I would deem not only important in sales, but invaluable in everyday life are knowing how to open your ears, stay cool and avoid being consumed.
Open Your Ears
Most people think that to be a good salesmen one must be a real smooth talker and must know all the right pitches to say to a customer. While being a smooth talker and knowing all the corny lines your company gives you does help, it’s not the end all, be all to being a good salesman. One time “Mrs. Jones” told me she was scared of Cutco. She told me she already had a set of knives, she had cut herself with one of them and she just thought they were too sharp. Well, that was a problem, because obviously being a cutlery salesman most of the things I had to offer were sharp knives. But instead of trying to sell the fact that dull knives are actually more dangerous than sharp ones, I just listened to what she had to say and adjusted. Even though she didn’t buy any knives, she ended up getting a gardening set. So, smooth talking and corny lines only goes so far when it comes to sales and real communication in general. I think people forget that communication does not involve just talking, but listening. Having the ability to listen to someone, and I’m not just talking about hearing their voice, but actually focusing on what someone is saying is what makes a truly good salesman, friend and just a good person.
Confidence! Confidence! Confidence! Confidence is vital when working with people. Without it you might as well expect a no sale. Mrs. Jones wants you to speak to her straight, be firm when asking questions and deliver. Before I started doing sales I wasn’t a smooth talking type of guy and really wasn’t all that talkative and now that I’m done with sales I’m still the same. But my eyes have been open that how you say something is much more important than what you say. When you speak with a calm confidence and in an expectant manner typically a good sale is right around the corner.
Now, outside the realm of sales confidence is still a huge deal because people respond to it positively. If you believe in who you are and what you’re about people will see it in your approach and hear it in the way you talk. Whether you’re asking that pretty girl on a date , asking your boss for that promotion or anything else having confidence and staying cool is crucial.
Avoid Being Consumed
I was a self-employed salesman so I arranged my own schedule and checked in at the office whenever I chose, which was really cool. However, one downside to being technically self- employed, but still having managers is that they would blow up my cell phone to check on how my sales were going or to see if I would be at their meetings.They were always challenging me to sell more Cutco ,and come into more meetings, which I think being challenged is a good thing. However if the challenge isn’t from within and is being pressed upon you then it’s important to take a small step back and reflect. For me, I had to make a decision that unlike my managers the cutlery industry wasn’t my life and I wasn’t going to spend all my time and energy trying to make a buck. Being aware that work can be a consuming fire is important, because you get to decide whether you want to put all your time and energy into work. Unfortunately, too many people get pulled in the workforce without thinking and live to work instead of working to live. I was motivated to make sales, which was great, but when I felt that the window of time to talk and be around my family wasn’t where I wanted it I knew I needed to find a good balance.