Are you a Sales Person or an Order Taker?

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I bought a new car just before Christmas. My homework was done and I knew what manufacturer I wanted but I was not entirely sure which model or specification I was going to buy.

On arrival at the dealership I was excited at the prospect of picking the right vehicle for me. My salesman (let’s call him Gareth to protect his identity) proceeded to ask me absolutely nothing about the type of driving I do, what I look for in a car, what my budget was etc etc.  He may as well have gone home and left me to sort it out for myself.  

Luckily for him I found a model in the showroom that I really liked and there was an ex-demo available for immediate delivery so despite his best efforts to destroy the sale he won his commission (it makes me sick to the stomach that he would get paid commission for this). The price for his complacency was that I drove a very hard bargain and will not go back there again or recommend him to anyone. Gareth proved himself to be nothing more than an “order taker”.

More recently I dropped into a McDonald’s for some lunch on the run. Because they keep changing the menu I was confused so asked my server what she liked to eat. She said, “our tastes are probably different, what do you like eating and how hungry are you?” I was wowed and after a conversation I settled for a chicken type burger and some fries. She asked me if I wanted a meal deal (a classic McDonald’s upsell script) which I did. She got my food, took my money and said she hoped I liked my choice. The server helped me solve a problem and at the same time maximised the sale for her restaurant.

The moral of this story is that being a decent salesperson is not difficult and yet it is surprising how many of the so-called professionals are nothing more than sales administrators.

Here’s my top three tips for making sure you maximise the possibility and value of your sales opportunities:

  1. Have a set of sales questions to hand that you can ask prospective customers, enabling you to build rapport, understand their needs and truly help them make an informed choice
  2. Record yourself on the phone or at a sales meeting. Go over the recording and assess how much time you spend talking about your product versus the time the customer spends explaining what they want (you have two ears and one mouth so the ratio should be obvious)
  3. Invest at least an hour a week learning to be better at selling. It is the single most important skill you need to grow a business. Before you can EARN you must LEARN
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