Wednesday, March 09, 2011

On sales.

The skills of the salesman are unabashedly manipulative. In a week's training with The Simple Group in door-to-door office supply sales, I learned that the four most powerful tools in the seller's pocket are greed, urgency, fear of loss, and indifference. Unlocking your customer's anxiety is the key to success.

I am a conscientious objector to the predator-prey model of sales. I stake my job and my good name on my ability to subvert and transform that model and also exceed sales expectations. This is possible because all things are possible, and I am a darn good seller.

Sales are the absolute bread and butter of the department. Our technicians' livings don't come from their talent in disassembling laptops but in customer purchases. While, in the long run, our skill and our reputation is important for sales, we must have short-term action on the sales front. We are a business. This is legitimate and good.

So, in this post, I will outline the fundamental principles that run through all of my interactions with customers and that make me an effective salesman.

1. Truth comes first. This is expressed in two parts: fairness, and the good of the customer. This is a priority that I can proudly hold and make explicit to the customer. The foundation of our business relationship is one of transparency and trust. The customer already knows that we are a business. The customer knows that I expect reciprocal fairness for the fairness I provide. The customer can also know that I owe my organization due compliance in exchange for their empowering me to serve the customer. But most importantly, the customer can know that what I want most is to solve their real problems and do it well.

Demolish pretenses, "techniques", and manipulations right off the bat. This is especially true when the customer brings emotions or unfulfillable demands to the table. But it applies to all cases.

1b. Tranquility. Don't underestimate the importance of emotions to our industry. When customers purchase our services they are not purchasing a repaired computer; they are not even purchasing our labor. They are purchasing assurance and relief from anxiety. Customers will pay more for a service they can get elsewhere when assurance and confidence is projected by a department. Comfort is the real product. Your ability to be a comforting presence at the point of sale and throughout the business relationship is paramount.

1c. Realism. Every transaction must be grounded in realistic expectations and fulfillable terms. Never lose sight of limitations on our time and resources when conversing with the customer. We need not advertise our limitations, but assure the customer that the promises we make are good. Do not write a bad check to the customer.

1d. Clarity. Mutual understanding between the technician and the customer must be double-confirmed. Every incorrect belief is a time bomb.

2. Know, love, and trust your product, your company, and yourself. It's easy to be a seller in Fry's Electronics. Our services are cheap and we're *&^% good at them. We do more for our customers than the competition. We will take care of the customer. And if there's any way this has not been true in the past, we will make it true now. I will make it true. For you.

Genuine, sincere pride is a double-virtue in the service industry. It projects a good image and it purifies the operation internally. So long as they are rooted in truth, realism, and clarity, bold statements reassure the customer and create a motivational investment on the part of the technician. But boldness must be rooted in sincerity.

(I am an advocate of units being assigned to the technician who checks them in, with exceptions made when necessary.)

2b. Everybody can afford and will benefit from our services. Failing to offer services is not a failure to sell; it's a failure to serve. Under no circumstances should we be giving customers back filthy, disgusting computers; slow, unoptimized computers with not enough RAM, computers with lost data, or laptops whose wireless function they're not using, or that they're using dangerously on unsecured, poorly configured networks. Why would we allow customers to spend $1000 on a prefab gaming desktop when we can build a better one for $700?

Offering services is not up-selling. It's not, "Would you like fries with that?"

It's consultation and problem solving.

Companies pay technicians a lot of money for expert consultation. We provide that service to individuals for free. Don't be embarrassed to offer services. Be proud of yourself and your team mates. That's team knowledge. There is no IT problem we can't solve together.


Samual said...

Hey, you have described all the things wonderfully. The point of sale system can be fully computerized or some times it could be partially computerized too.

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