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Tips on Selling

Meeting a new person is just like a sale
Meeting a new person is just like a sale

Sales tips you can apply to everyday life

The key skills and insights of the salesperson aren’t just limited to the shop  oor; they can also help you navigate tricky social situations and uncertain interactions outside of work, writes SUE BARRETT.

Humans are social animals who need to engage with others in some way in order to be able to live effectively and have a meaningful existence.

Whether you’re a salesperson or not, there are times in your daily life when knowing how to sell can turn an awkward situation into a positive one.

The fear of rejection

Consider the new school year as an example. There are often many new faces and new people to meet across the year. Whether you want to or not, you will find yourself in new situations.

These could include setting up play dates for your children, welcoming new neighbours into your community, forming a parent group, meeting your child’s teachers and so on.

For some, social scenarios like these are second nature but not everyone finds these types of tasks easy to do.

Some parents might even consider it daunting. What if you try to arrange a play date between two children and the other parent says no?

People don’t like to be rejected, which is why it can be intimidating to break into a new tribe.

But as it turns out, igniting new social relationships is just like setting up new client relationships at work.

Both raise various questions and fear in our minds, such as:

  • How do I get accepted?
  • How do I make a good impression?
  • How do I get along with these people?
  • How do I build a trusting relationship with them, going forward?

All of these questions require us to know how to plan, prospect, enquire, understand others and find ways to engage in meaningful exchanges for the purpose of making a strong connection.

That is also what is required in the business world and more specifically in retail sales.

Strangers to friends

Let me share a specific example to illustrate my point.

Recently I was harvesting our annual crop of plums. It has been a good season and we harvested around 30kg.

What we normally like to do is make a pflaumenmus, which is plum butter, and we also preserve the plums; however, given previous harvests, we had more than enough already.

We didn’t need to cook anything this year but we also didn’t want to have these delicious plums go to waste.

I devised a plan – I would take some excess plums door-to-door and offer them to my neighbours for free, some of whom I know well and others whom I do not know.

Have you ever tried to go door-to-door selling something?

“People don’t like to be rejected, which is why it can be intimidating to break into a new tribe.”

It’s not easy, even if the product you have won’t cost the other person anything!

People can be wary because they are caught off guard; they’re wondering who you are and what you want.

To address this and before I left for my plum distribution drive, I developed my VBR – valid business reason – for calling on them.

It went something like this: to people I didn’t know, I said, “Hi, I’m your neighbour from up the street. We have an abundance of fresh plums we cannot use and I was wondering if you would like to have some?”

Immediately everyone knew why I was there and what I was offering.
When they said yes to the offer, I instructed them to get a large bowl so I could give them plenty of plums.
To people I did know, I said the same thing but with one crucial difference: I used their names.
“Hi [person’s name], we have an abundance of fresh plums we cannot use and I was wondering if you would like to have some?”
I managed to visit 12 houses, which took me three hours because, besides distributing my plums, I got to have some wonderful conversations with my neighbours.

I even got some home-grown corn and chillies in return and it was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

There were real skills involved here – knowing how to introduce yourself; helping people to quickly understand why you are there; giving neighbours a choice to say yes or no; being open, friendly and welcoming.

All of these were integral to the success of the venture – as they are when it comes to dealing with customers.

However, having a clear plan and the right intentions made the biggest difference to my success in this situation, helping me to build new and better relationships in my community.

Sue Barrett

Contributor • Barrett

Sue Barrett is founder and CEO of innovative and forward-thinking sales advisory and education firm Barrett and online sales education platform Learn more:

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