Harvey's short course in salesmanship
Note from JRB: On 7/23/2009, I had the pleasure of attending a very creative class at Austin's Greenlights on Corporate Fundraising given by Sam Woollard and Debbie Johnson of the new Austin firm of Successful Giving. Much insightful knowledge was shared. The group included many interested and eager Austin Nonprofits. One thing for sure, we learned one more time, that we are salespeople, creatively challenged to sell the mission of our organizations to all funders, be it corporations, foundations or individuals. So get your sales hat on and read this great article by Harvey Mackay, and have a great day!
Selling is not easy, even in the best of times. In a downturn like we're in right now, the sales force still has to write orders just to keep the doors open.
Professionals have mastered skills that survive tough times. I've learned many techniques over the years, none more important than learning about your customer, for which I developed the Mackay 66 Customer Profile. I've written about this many times.
You have to use your time wisely, use available technology tools and software. You need to be creative, listen, work hard, have role models, be a self-starter, set goals, plan, be passionate, personable and persuasive, use proper body language and not procrastinate.
Do all those things, and you should be writing orders all day long. But there are a few other things you need to understand in order to be a real competitor.
- The law of large numbers. In sales, if you can't be number one, the best position you can shoot for is number two. Position yourself as number two to every prospect on your list and keep adding to that list. I can promise you that if your list is long enough, there are going to be number ones who retire, die, are terminated or lose their territories for a hundred reasons. What I can't tell you is which one. That's why I say if you're standing second in line—in enough lines—sooner or later you're going to move up to number one.
- Know the gatekeeper. Any peddler worth her expense account tries to reach up as high as she can on the corporate ladder on the theory, usually correct, that orders from headquarters tend to carry the day. But those of us who use that tactic have also learned that the higher up we go, the more likely that the decision maker we're trying to reach took the same sales course we did, aced it and will have a trusted assistant trained to block our access. Make gatekeepers your friend. Treat them with dignity. Respect their power. Try and work with them to get your mission accomplished.
- There's no business without show business. No one ever sold anyone anything by boring them to death. There are a lot of similarities between showmanship and salesmanship. A first-rate salesperson has to deliver a helluva performance. Look at all the industries that rely on showmanship. Restaurants often hype their atmosphere more than their food. But what if your product isn't glamorous, like envelopes? During a Photo Marketing Association trade show in Las Vegas, our PhotoPak Division had a Black Jack table at its sales booth. The give-away? A deck of cards that said, "MackayMitchell has a deal for you."
- Yes, no or maybe. When you're selling, obviously, the best thing your prospect can tell you is YES. But do you know the next best thing? It's NO. Many times the worst thing he can say is MAYBE. The person that says NO frees you up to go on to the next prospect. I've seen a lot of young salespeople spend inordinate amounts of time chasing after the prospect that says MAYBE, when the Mr./Ms. Maybe isn't ever going to buy. He's what we call a "Porcelain Egg"—an egg that's never going to hatch. Every salesperson has prospect lists full of Porcelain Eggs. An exercise that has helped me is to review my last 20 or so sales calls. How many were closed on the first three calls? The next five calls? If my average is around five calls, and I'm still carrying some prospects that I've called on 20 times, it tells me it's time to quit calling.
- Ask for the order. Even the best hitters in baseball can't hit the ball unless they take a swing. Many salespeople excel at making their presentations but when it comes to crunch time, they have a lump in their throats bigger than a nerfball. They pussyfoot around hoping the prospect will say "yes" without even being asked. What a wonderful world it would be if that were the way it was. But it isn't, so you not only have to ask, you often have to ask two or three times.
Mackay's Moral: There are no jobs until someone sells something.
More information and learning tools can be found online at harveymackay.com.
In September, look for our announcement to check out the new firm Successful Giving in Austin.