by Marvin Deitch of PMG Services, Inc.
Authored for an industry newsletter in Spring 2008
When asked to be a guest writer for the IBSDM newsletter, my first question was “what is the topic?” I was told the topic was The Ultimate Professional Salesperson – Selling in a Recession. I hesitantly agreed . . . and then went to pull up dictionary.com on my computer to see exactly what I would be getting myself into. I found the following:
Ultimate – ul·ti·mate – adjective. Maximum; decisive; conclusive: the ultimate authority; the ultimate weapon.
Professional – pro·fes·sion·al – adjective. Done by a professional; expert: professional car repairs.
Recession – re·ces·sion – noun. Economics. a period of an economic contraction, sometimes limited in scope or duration.
My first thought was “Donna made a big mistake asking me to comment on this topic”. Then I thought to myself, “you know, maybe she didn’t”. What drives all of our companies are the sales we bring in. Without sales we can all go into a recession. For over fourteen years this is exactly what I have been doing with PMG Services, Inc. Those years have taught me a lot about trying to be the best at what I do, which is sales, management, prospecting and maintaining client relationships…basically being chief cook and bottle washer.
But before those lessons, there was another I learned. It’s a true story I’d like to share and it’s been a central part of my philosophy since I first heard it. Perhaps some have heard it before, but I feel it’s worth repeating.
A company that sells to the direct marketing industry was having their annual meeting. As a change to the usual program, the CEO wanted their top salesperson, their sales leader for over ten years, to speak and motivate the other salespeople attending.
When the CEO came to this special segment in the program, he introduced him, his accomplishments and his achievements, this, was their Ultimate Salesperson. After the introduction, everyone waited with great anticipation to hear what this man had to say.
What indecipherable truth of his success was he going to share? He walked up to the podium, and looked out at the audience. He did this for a few minutes. Not nervous, not trying to figure out where to start, just looking, from face to face. Anticipation built in his silence. Then he spoke.
“See the people” he said. Then he turned, stepped off the podium and went back to his seat.
Shocked silence settled over his audience. That was it. It’s so simple, especially if your business Is sales driven. Yet many overlook it. It’s also much deeper than those three words, it’s insightful and innovating.
“See the people.”
Yes, see the people. Visit them, make up reasons to be there. But also see what they do. See their responsibilities, see their challenges, see their needs, see their weaknesses. See where you can help.
The key to selling in a recession is really no different than any other time. In fact, it can even present opportunities. Being positive is an Important thing to keep in mind. We all know customers are looking for ways to save money. In a recession there is the chance to take advantage of that, there are opportunities for those in our end of the industry to show how we are a better value option. But we must remember,
“See the people”
It’s then that we as salespeople can constructively respond to the customers we serve by making cost saving recommendations. Most of our customers are overworked and have additional responsibilities. See this, make their job easier by doing your job better. When working with a customer on projects, be pro-active. See beyond what is in front of you; take a step back and see the big picture. Foresee possible problems with size, paper, color, bindery, postal specifications. Make recommendations on the spot if you can. If not, let them know you want to check something out and get back to them. Help them. Let yourself be your client’s resource. Use your experience. Make them look good. Make yourself look good. Let them see you as a plus.
To help ensure that, here are some tips:
– be on target with information
– be precise with delivery of information
– be knowledgeable of the products being sold
– be involved in industry functions, monthly meetings, committees, etc.
– develop a cold calling formula that becomes second nature to you. If there is down time, pick up the phone. Call as many new prospects as you can. It is frustrating, but the discipline is important. it will pay off down the road. Rome was not built in a day.
– be aware of the possibilities around you 24/7. Train yourself to look for them, you wlll be surprised by how many there are.
As in any other time, motivation, a good attitude about yourself and the products/services you sell is important. Feel good and believe in yourself and what you represent. Have fun with it. A good, positive attitude will leave an impression. It will all pay off if you put the time into it.
And remember, see the people ….