Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Let's have that sizzle: a primer on sales.

Sales. It is that dreaded word sometimes. Yet after these few moments, I hope to have you think otherwise.

Rewind the clock of time and go back to your childhood, that time when you were a student and had multiple opportunities to sell.
Remember that case of chocolate bars that you received or that case of light bulbs or catalog of magazines or seeds to sell.
Your assignment was to go door to door and to friends and family and sell these treasures.  What I enjoyed during those moments was waiting at the door and seeing the reaction of those who would open the door and be able to do something totally different than my everyday school life. I got to be a semi professional salesman early on in my life.

When I was in the midst of this early sales career of my life, what drove me was the incentives of selling so many boxes of candy or lightbulbs.  Then I could come home with a nice watch or plaque.

When my niece was visiting us in Maine, we went to the Portland Childrens Museum and there was a general store. Abby went in there and stood at the cash register and rang items through the scanner.
Several of our family stood there as she rang up our order and gave us our total.
What this incident taught me is that sales is a little bit about play and taking on a role early on in our lives.

Growing up requires that you monitor all of the senses that go through your mind.  Ever stand in front of that cereal aisle and see the vast array of choices of products to buy. It can be overwhelming at times.
Boxes upon boxes of cereal.. differentiated by the slightest of margins. Whether it is the design on the box of a cover, the prize that may be inside that box or the terrific taste that one experiences each time one eats it.
My favorite cereal is the Frosted Mini Wheats.  I love the small bite size consistency and when covered with milk, it has a good crunch with just the right amount of sweetness.  And it can be tempting to bite into throughout the day straight from the box itself.

Even as a child, sales is a lot about play.  It involves chasing down the business owners and often being told that they are not at home during the moment.  It involves a little bit of that hide and seek as you try to not spill the entire contents of your bean bag until you are right in front of them.
It can be also like that game of twister and as the dial is spun, one can get into some rather uncomfortable positions.
Or that dreaded game of the towers of Jenga where one has to be careful not to pull out that key block of support.

General Electric had a popular slogan of "We bring things to life."
In essence, what this is is the use of our imaginations.

Much of the world is understanding our perceptions and needs.  A lot of what a salesperson does is unveiling what our true needs are at the time.  It is like going to a show and seeing magic performed.
We can not always tell at the amount what is going to happen but it often involves pulling something out of the hat and seeing the rabbit emerge from who knows where.

When I was young, I saw an advertisement for a gum that burst with flavor when it was bit into. I went to the store later on during the week and purchased the packet of gum. When I got home and unwrapped the package, I bit into the gum and no burst occurred. I tried during the next 5 bites and no massive burst happened.

There is a famous saying in sales and that is "don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle."  A lot of this can be reflected in the features and benefits of the products which we sell.  A feature is an aspect of the product that we sell and the benefit is what happens when the product hits the hands of the consumer and it becomes their own.

When I kept debating back and forth with my friends on which computer should I buy, it all centered on whether I would get an Apple or a Dell. Then I had to decide on the memory I would need, the accessories that i would want. Then during the Easter of 2003, a friend of mine, Paul Crisci, had an old HP computer that he did not need. It got me into the modern era with the internet. It was almost like an Edsel, a lemon. A very old clunker of a machine. It crashed every few hours and took a little while to get back up to speed. I did a lot of work on that machine from my blog and learning how to use the internet.  Then one day, I had enough. I browsed through the web pages for Apple and one day while at the Fitness Edge, I looked at the Apple Page and I saw just what I wanted. A 24 inch refurbished I Mac Machine!!! Just the ticket to modernization!!!  It was at that split second I knew what I wanted.

From taking a look at some of these motives and slogans, we can see that

During my career, I have been indirectly involved in sales.  When I worked at Schrier Brothers, my first interaction with sales was when Mark Schissler had me take down one of his orders. He gave me about 40 items of products from White and Brown bags to boxes and pallets of foil and Solo cups.
I was new at the time and just knew their names. As the years passed, I got to touch some of the products and see where there were on the pallets in the warehouse.

Many times I dove under the desk or into the filing cabinet and located the products that needed to be sold.
One of our star salesmen, Stew Reitzfeld, consistently earned top performing honors with his sales. Often in the office, I overheard our staff of Susan and Michelle and Kathy stating, "We are helping Stew look good. Through my conversations with them, it took their knowing the customer's needs as well and working with our buyers and vendors to make sure that the delivery process went well.

Sales often has to deal with the process of having the right fit.

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