How to be a natural salesperson….

posted in: People | 2

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my mother, sister, and I went to a few local craft fairs.  We aren’t “Black Friday people” – we prefer to avoid the crowds, but we do enjoy perusing the aisles of arts and crafts made by local artisans.   We enjoyed looking at, tasting, and smelling all the wonderful wares that were on display.  I marveled at the talent and expertise the small business owners had in making and displaying their products.

As we walked the aisles, my sister saw a display of necklaces that caught her eye, and she wandered over to admire them.  Unfortunately, she came back to us empty-handed.  “I thought you were going to buy a necklace.”

“Nope!” she said, “The guy was way too pushy.”  She then explained that she was looking at the necklaces when she was approached by the owner of the booth.  He was prompt to not only show her the features of the necklace (it was adjustable) but then proceeded to place one on her – without her permission! That is when my introverted sister graciously made an excuse of losing track of her shopping buddies (me and mom) and made her escape.  He pushed past her comfort zone and lost a sale.

At another booth, I was admiring hand-knit mittens, when a woman approached me about her microwave neck warmers.  I know they are lovely – I already own one, but mine is unscented.   She asked if she could put one on my shoulders to try it.  I said “No, I am allergic to lavender” …. she persisted, and I had to walk away from not only her potential death-trap hot packs but also her hand-knit mittens.

By the end of the day, I was getting frustrated that these folks were so talented, and had such beautiful goods – but they seemed to be lacking in salesmanship.  Until that is, my mother met Sarah.  Sarah had a booth of hand-made lotions and soaps.  My mother was admiring the lilac soap and lotions.  Sarah noticed her and said “If you have any questions – I’m right over here.” and she kept her distance.  My mother then noticed a light sandalwood, and Sarah said “Ohh… that’s my favorite – would you like to try it?” and flashed my mom a smile and motioned towards the sample bottle.  My mom pumped some of the sample lotion on her hand and agreed the scent was wonderful.  Sarah stepped in closer and explained how she found the ingredients, and the story behind her product.  Mom was hooked and proceeded to make her selections -one lilac, and one sandalwood.  Sarah gently reminded my mother that she could get 50% off one more… so mom made her third selection.   I also noticed that in between each interaction with my mother, Sarah was making similar interactions with other visitors to her booth.  Sarah masterfully balanced her customers and made each one feel like they were the only one there.

Sarah is a natural – she did all the right things to make the sale a pleasurable experience.

When selling a product, or even a service, it’s important to respect the nature of the client that is in front of you.  Some are introverted – they prefer to browse, inspect, and admire your product.  They like to ask questions when they have fully been able to absorb the information their senses and instincts have given them.  They appreciate you being nearby, but they get uncomfortable if you approach or push.   It’s important to meet your customers where they are in the buying process.

Respect your customers’ personal space – never place your product on them yourself, unless you get explicit permission to assist (such as putting on a jacket or necklace)  If you have a product like a lotion or cream – let the customer apply the product themselves.  They also get the experience of the ease of using your product – after all, you won’t be in their bathroom at home applying it for them.

Understand that no means no.   I know we are taught in sales to overcome objections, but when someone objects, it’s not your job to change their mind on their objection.  It’s your job to find a solution for them – and that means you need to find out what they need. When I told the salesperson I was allergic to lavender, she could have asked if I liked the mittens I was looking at, or she could have asked if I liked unscented products.  She could have been helpful and asked who I was shopping for, and what I was looking for at the fair.  Instead, she was focused on selling the product she wanted to sell to me, instead of finding me a product I wanted to buy.

Tell your love story  – Your customers are smart – they can see what you are selling.  It’s obvious you are selling lotion, or a necklace, or mittens.  But what makes this product special to you?  And don’t tell me the features – tell me the WHY.    Tell me that when your kids were young, you looked for a way to keep their hands warm and dry.  Tell me how you discovered that using recycled wool sweaters not only kept your kid’s hands warm, but it was economical too.  Tell me how your kids were able to play in the snow all day.  Tell me how it took you a few trials and errors to perfect the pattern, and once you did, all your friends and family wanted you to make them mittens. That is what will sell me your product – not the fact that they are double stitched, or come in a variety of colors, or I can get a matching hat.  Tell me the features after I’ve fallen in love with you.  Tell me your love story.

In my next article, I will talk about the different types of customers there are out there, and how to meet them where they are in the buying process.

Until then, Hit the Heights!
Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
Business Leadership Guide

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Business Coach for Contractors

Business Coach for Contractors and Founder of Blazing Trails Coaching I help my clients “get out of their pickup trucks and on top of their businesses.” I specialize in working with skilled-trades business owners to help them streamline processes, train leaders, engage employees, and make their businesses efficient and profitable.

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Really good article! I especially appreciate the love story aspect of selling an art or a craft, or an item that has been painstakingly created. A friend of mine is a furniture craftsman, and I love listening to his talk about the intricacies of his creations. When the purchaser appreciates the work going into an item just as much, it’s a win – win! The customer is proud of the purchase, and the artist is grateful the craft is going to a good home. I am an artist of sorts myself, and this article has given me a new appreciation for that portion of the selling process. Thank you!

    • blazingtrailscoach

      Thank you for your great comment! Yes, we are all artists really – and the pride shows through the wares we sell. I think that is often why it’s hard to take rejection at the point of sale, because we take it personally. I was listening to a podcast today where the guest – Lisa Earle McLeod said that if everyone in sales would think to themselves “How will my customers life be different as a result of this purchase?” – we would communicate much differently! If we could think about our clients children’s hands being warm for the winter, or how much fun they will have, and memories that will be made building snowmen wearing those mittens – and not focus on the sale (money) itself – we would be a lot stronger at selling! I am going to talk more about this coming up – thanks for reading, and welcome to the Trail!