My son Paul got a job with a large chain of guitar stores. He had never worked in a retail organization before. The pay was based on a small salary plus commission. They put him through an extensive sales training. It was the usual stuff on how to approach a customer, present the product and mostly, of course, close the deal and make the sale! It was almost like a car dealer’s pitch, “Do you want the red car or the white?” He wasn’t doing well.
To make matters worse, they had an embarrassing gimmick. A photographer was based in the parking lot and instructed to take a picture of every customer who exited without a package. These photos were posted on what they called “The Be Back” board in the employee’s lounge. Many of the “I’ll be back” customers were his. Paul dropped by for coffee one morning. He said, “Mom, you used to be a sales trainer. What am I doing wrong? What’s the key?”
I answered him, “The key is that you have to love those people you are selling. Never count the commission in your mind. Do what is best for them if they are just buying some strings or an expensive guitar.” I went on – – “I believe that 99% of communication is mental. People sense if you are coming to them with a loving attitude or as a desperate salesman looking to close them.” He said he’d try it. His sales started coming in. Then they really escalated. He became the top salesman in the store. And his salary reflected it.
(One of his buddies tipped him off that the management was so surprised that they started to watch him carefully to make sure he was not giving merchandise away.) In six months, he was one of the top ten salesmen in the entire chain out of 400 around the country. This company gives an extravagant party once a year to honor their top ten salespeople. Limos, deluxe hotel, elegant dinner – the works. Paul was of course included. After the dinner, the president of the company approached him. He said, “Paul, how did you do this? You came up out of nowhere.” Paul answered, “I don’t want to tell you. You won’t believe me.” “Of course I’ll believe you. Tell me.” Paul gulped. “I started loving the people who come in.” The big boss replied, “Okay Paul, now tell me how you REALLY did it.”
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