“No one can play whatever position they choose. If that happened in baseball there’d be nine pitchers.” – Billy Martin
When it comes to hiring a salesperson, too many business amateurs think selling is selling. They are unaware that two distinct types of sales jobs exist, each requiring a different set of personal traits and skills. One demands initiative, aggressiveness, and the hide of a rhinoceros, while the other demands discipline and the love of routine without emotional risk or the need of strong persuasive skills. Two kinds of selling – two kinds of people. And you cannot mix and match. If you have a salesperson or two on your staff, do their talents match your needs?
And what are these distinct selling jobs? The first, termed “developmental,” requires the salesperson to find or attract a new lead and “ink” the deal on the first try. Remember the last time you shopped around for a new car–what happened? The salesperson, using well-rehearsed closing skills, wanted your signature on a contract “today,” as he or she knew, once out the door, you were on your way to a competitor. The other, known as “maintenance,” is writing reorders replacing inventory to established customers who sell your products. The most successful maintenance salespersons have social skills combined with reliability.
To make it, you need strong selling skills. You must aggressively pursue sales leads, get in the door, and get the order. Examples of these sales positions are insurance agents, siding and window salespersons, and real estate agents. Most spend a lot of time on the telephone seeking sales leads.
It is demanding work. Unlike selling to steady customers, where rejection and verbal abuse are rare, developmental selling requires the prospecting of strangers who may be leery of you, treat you with rudeness, impolite behavior, and finally reject you. To be successful, it takes a person with determination, toughness, and a love of challenge.
Those successful at it know that success comes from finding and pitching as many people as possible. They know that the law of averages has not been repealed – if you make enough calls, if you ask for enough orders, you will close some deals. The more experience you acquire, the better you will be at it.
Guys and Gals who enjoy the challenge are stimulated by the promise of making money, not security, or compliments. They prefer to be on a straight commission as they expect to be paid for success, not seniority.
Maintenance selling is writing reorders with established clients. It is a relationship of trust between buyer and seller – high-pressure developmental sales tactics will backfire. If you are a retailer and the sales representative from your major supplier pressures you to buy inventory you do not need, and can’t sell, you will soon be looking for another vendor.
If you plan to sell products to other businesses, such as retailers or distributors, to be successful you need to establish long-term relationships by honest and dependable dealings. Distorting facts, making false promises, and not keeping your word, will lose you customers when they discover your questionable methods.
Unlike “development” sales jobs, with the emphasis on “unlimited” earnings, maintenance selling works best with a steady income that rewards routine. A popular arrangement is a combination of a salary and a small commission to sweeten the pot of those who try for the edge of the envelope.
Frank “Loaded” his Customers.
At one time in my career, I was managing a national sales organization and, unfortunately, found it necessary to replace a salesperson for selling too much. Frank was aggressive and continually pushed product on his customers who happened to be mostly small stores with limited resources.
Because they trusted him, his inflated sales orders were rarely questioned. After a few months, most of Frank’s customers were overstocked. Some were not able to pay their bills and others wanted to return most of the unsold merchandise. Because of Frank’s overly aggressive sales efforts, business in his territory nearly stopped. Every store was loaded with our merchandise collecting dust. Frank did not understand maintenance selling. Somehow, he thought selling was an arm-twisting, get the order at any cost, activity. He failed to grasp that when you routinely deal with the same customers, such as retailers and distributors, your success is dependent on their success; there is no sale until your customer sells the product. Frank never understood that the real sale is the reorder.
If you are unhappy with the performance of your sales staff, perhaps you have tried putting round pegs in square holes.
Article – Copyright 2002 Dr. Paul E. Adams. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.