One of the things in business today that I always find fascinating is the lack of “sales people.” Now, they are typically referred to as specialists in “business development” or “corporate development” But true salesmanship is an absolute art, and a passion to those who have mastered it. Great sales people are incredible finds, and can be the most important factor in your ability to cultivate a lasting and appreciative clientele.
But what, exactly, is the art of salesmanship? It’s the ability to make a heart-to-heart connection with the person buying the product from you. It’s the sense of trust and congeniality you convey to patrons. It’s getting to understand your customer, what his or her real desires and motivations are, and how you might be of help to that individual. The true art of selling always starts with a “thee before me” approach – knowing how to make that customer feel comfortable dealing with your company. My feeling is that this has become increasingly a lost art.
How many people do you know today who take pride in being a salesman, and consider it a worthwhile profession? For most of my career the one thing I wanted to do was connect with people, but connect in a different way than everyone else. My goal was to get to know them, get to understand what made them tick, rather than just come at them with a sales pitch. The selling part, I knew, would come later. And I am proud to say I made many lasting friendships in the process, with individuals whose company I still enjoy.
As Picasso would say when people would come to his house, “If you are here to see my art, get out of my house. You can see the art in a museum. If you are here to get to know me, you are welcome — come and stay as long as you want.” That philosophy, I believe, is one that can be applied to cultivating customers. There are many ways to make a sale today – the impersonal business of going online being the most popular — but I feel strongly that the company that makes a real effort to practice the art of salesmanship and connecting with customers will have a considerable edge over any competitor who fails to do likewise.
So my advice is, bring back that “sales representative” title and let it be a badge of honor for someone who has truly mastered the art.