Friday, August 20, 2010

On Buying and Selling

I have given a lot of thought to this issue. In my long career in selling I have tried to understand what a best and easiest way to sell. I was never a born salesperson in that sense but I had to take up a job, because I had to, and it happened to be a sales job. I wish to highlight two incidents that gives on a lesson on life too. To some extent we all sell in some form or the other without our knowledge. This selling may not be on a professional level and may not lead to profit as such, but it happens all over. At home, at the social circles, while traveling etc

During my early days as a sales person, I could not talk much, was not even articulate enough to state my case. To make up for this I used to work very hard, actually making double the amount of calls that was expected off me. Most of the times these calls were not successful ones, I would have just got and audience and exchanged cards to make myself familiar to my customer. There were times I used to feel so tired as the day came to a close and wanted to run back to office. It was one of those days, I was tired dragging myself, and somewhere in Parrys. It was around 4.30 pm time to reach office. A thought occurred to me about a client in that particular location. I was tired and tried to overrule that thought but this time my spirit got the better of me. I took a small detour and visited the client. To my surprise he gave me the business so easily that day.

I realized that in sales, as in life, you need to have a strong spirit to override the flesh.

Many years later I was confronted with this odd situation. I had completely unaware of a major advertising campaign that was about to roll out. When I came to know it was very late. When I saw the media plan I was appalled for none of my products were in the plan. So I went straight to the agency planning the campaign, met the top man ( Mr Balachandar) and did not say anything, but just asked for the copy of the advertisment. He found me a bit strange. One look at the advertisment, I knew they had made a big big mistake. Take note of this, I did not consider or think of my loss but at the loss of the client. I put his needs before mine. I managed to hold on to this noble thought over the week end as I prepared for a presentation to be done on Monday. On monday I was ready with a fresh proposal, I was late, but I decided I must not loose without a fight.

Around 11.30 am I managed to meet Bala with the proposal. It would have been just 3 minutes into my presentation, he picks up the phone and calls his client and says " I want you to review the plan, I want you to meet this guy who has a very different perspective and seems a lot sensible" I went on to meet the client and got the order. The Moral was simple. I had no intentions of selling, I just wanted to make sure that the client got the biggest gain. I spoke on his behalf. Thank god there was a Bala around and a great client who would listen and make last minute changes.

I learnt a fantastic lesson. The best sale is when the buyer does not know he is buying and the seller does not know he is selling but the transaction takes place.

I strongly recommend the following to achieve this sales nirvana:

1. Internalize information about your own product first
2. Never try to impose something on the client if he does not need it
3. If he needs your product, you need to be convinced first and then transmit it to the client with all the details
4. Be sincere and honest

If you think I meant all that I said about, you are wrong. This only works if the buyer is honest too. If he is not, you just be the typical conman. The saddest thing is most buyers are con man so the selling profession needs a lot of con salesman to do the job.

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