Sales lessons are business lessons and ethics lessons in disguise.

by Jen Gluckow

Lessons-webInspiration for this lesson: At one of my early retail sales jobs, my boss said to me, Were a neighborhood, boutique store and rely on repeat business and word-of-mouth reputation, and referrals.

Dont convince anyone to buy something that doesnt work for them, and always help them find the BEST solution for themselves, so when they leave they cant wait to tell all of their friends.

If you send them home with something that is not flattering, they will soon find out – it will sit in their closet and they will never return. Worse, they will tell all of their friends.

I realized each sale was way bigger than just one sale. Each sale would determine the customer lifespan, and their potential referral business. That first lesson set the foundation for every sales position I held.

Your ethics, better defined as the way you conduct business internally and externally, creates the culture within your company. That culture is the foundation upon which employees and leadership take actions both on their behalf and on behalf of the business.

Those business and personal ethics lead to an executed business strategy, and it must be clearly defined so that all who are implementing it both understand it and agree with it.

Everyone must play by the same set of standards and guidelines.

In todays social society, you can no longer get away with anything poor quality, high pricing, poor service are no longer tolerated and are reported for all to see. Your reputation truth is exposed in under 20 seconds on anyones smart phone. If you dont buy quality or dont manufacture quality, you can never sell quality. If you dont love to serve, you can never serve with quality.

And in todays social world, the repeat customer, the recommended customer, and the referred customer are the heart of business success.

Here are the secrets to reputation, repeat customer, recommended customer, and referral:

Transfer your genuine belief. Keyword is genuine. If you love and believe in your products and services, you should have an easy time transferring your passion. Turn your customers into believers, and they too should have an easy time transferring their passion and making referrals.
Concentrate on helping, not making commissions. If you concentrate on helping customers and you demonstrate you have their best interest at heart, you will earn their trust. Trust leads to long-term relationships. Trust leads to repeat business. Trust leads to referrals. Commissions will follow automatically.
Dont sell someone something they don’t need, or something that won’t help them or they won’t benefit from. In other words, only sell something that you believe helps the other guy. Heres the reality: If they get home and realize they really didnt want it, need it or wont benefit from it, you will be blamed in seconds and your business reputation will be at-risk.

And the most important secret is the positive-negative. Many salespeople try to look like heroes by putting down the customers to build themselves up. A positive-negative builds the customer up and creates positive anticipation.

Theres no anxiety. Theres no feeling of pain. Only good thoughts for whats next.

Old-world sales experts try to find pain and create discomfort. This leads to a pressured sale rather than a pleasured sale. This leads to worry rather than happiness. The salesperson is on the opposite side of the fence from the customer and must manipulate their way to the sale.

When you create positive language all the way through the sale, then theres a positive ending without remorse. Interestingly, theres a phrase that says good to great and thats strangely missing from the book. This looks good, but I have something great, or I have something even better that will look great.

RULE OF CONNECTION: You dont offer a comment to start this process, you ask a question.

For example, if youre in retail and selling clothing you might ask:

  • How do you feel?
  • How do you think you look?
  • How comfortable are you?
  • Where do you picture wearing this or using this?
  • How do you think this fits with your style?
  • What do you think your mom would say?
  • What do you think your best friends would say?

PLEASE NOTE: Youre not trying to talk the customer out of a sale, rather youre trying to harmonize with them and get them to want to buy.

The customer may already be thinking about some of these questions, and your questions help facilitate their answers. Your job is to create open dialogue about what customers are thinking whether youre selling clothing or copiers. This will put them at ease, create truth and allow you to serve them and help them BEST.

Serve and help, not sell.

PERSONAL SALES EXPERIENCE: When I worked in retail, helping and questioning were my natural instincts. My positive responses were attitude driven, not sales driven. If youve ever wondered what role attitude and questioning plays in sales, the answer is one word: primary.

If you want to win the culture war, take this short test to define and measure your ethics and actions:

  • What is your personal ethical standard?
  • What is your companys ethical standard?
  • Do you sell first or help first?
  • How would you define your company culture?
  • How well do your people communicate internally?
  • How well are your people trained?
  • What is your go-to-market strategy?

Ethics and culture are not just corporate, they are VERY personal.
Its not just the company, its their leadership and their people.
Its you.

Jen's Top Ten Sales Zen

With co-host Jeffrey Gitomer, we bring in top sales professionals to give you the best advice to kick your own ass.