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Sales 101 - How to stop being a terrible salesperson

The world has way too many terrible salespeople, and if you're one of them, I'm begging you to stop. That is, either stop trying to make sales, or learn how to be better at sales. Either way, whether you shut up, or get better, you will make the world a better place.

In a long life I've seen a lot of terrible salespeople, and a handful of wonderful ones. Bad salespeople are as easy to recognize as bad actors, they just make you cringe, and you wish that you could wave a magic wand and make them disappear. When I'm confronted by a bad salesperson, I try to make myself disappear as quickly as possible - and if that's not possible, I try to show them what good sales should be. That is, I turn it around.

I've been fascinated by sales all of my life, and it's an art that I continue to study. And like all arts, you can always improve. And the first step to improvement is self-evaluation, and an understanding of what sales is, and how it's done correctly.

At its most basic form, sales is communication meant to convince people to do something. Of course, sales is mostly considered a way to get people to part with their money, but sales is also anything that attempts to convince someone to make any kind of exchange. It doesn't have to be cash, it could be convincing someone to donate their time, it could be convincing someone to be vote the way that you do, that sort of thing. And if you're following me here, you now realize why there are so many bad salespeople out there.

This may surprise you, but the next time you try to start selling me on the idea of trying your favorite restaurant, I immediate see how good you are at sales. And most people are just awful. They rant and rave, don't answer questions, don't pay attention to what the person they're talking to wants, the list goes on and on. And it's very painful for people to have to listen to you. So shut up, or get better. Pick one. Please.

If you'd like to get better at sales, the best place to start is to listen, not talk. A good salesperson will make an evaluation of their prospect, and won't waste their time trying to sell to someone who obviously will never buy. Yes, I know that this is profiling, but a good salesperson pays attention. If I were completely bald, a good salesperson will realize that spending time showing me hairbrushes would waste their time, and mine. Also, if your product is gender-specific, you should be able to recognize my gender, and pass me over as a prospect.

• Good salespeople listen to objections, and overcomes them. And yes, everyone has objections, that's why you're selling. If they had no objections, they would already been sold on your product, or idea. If you listen carefully, you can get the information you need to overcome objections. Of course if the objection is something like "I'm not interested", then a wise salesperson moves on. If it's something like "it costs too much" or "takes too much time", a good salesperson has something that they can overcome. Overcoming objections is what salespeople do - as long as you keep giving them tangible objections, they can overcome them, and move you closer to the sale.

• Good salespeople give people time to think it over. That's why good salespeople always have business cards - it allows people to contact them later. Bad salespeople twist arms, good sales people are patient.

• Good salespeople assume the sale. They aren't surprised at making a sale, they expect it all along. Bad sales people tend to not even think of the possibility of a sale, and they often completely miss the moment when the sale happens, and they go on talking, and talking, until they have successful "unsold".

So if you're out there, trying to sell a product or an idea, either learn how to do it better, or stop doing it altogether, you'll make the world a better place.

Thank you!