In his book ‘‘Sell Yourself First’’, Thomas Freese, starts by stating that in the State where he lives, “you have to have a license to catch fish or own a dog, but you can refer yourself as a sales professional without any credentials whatsoever.”
Of course we live in a world where sales industry is not and may never be regulated by any authority. However, only professional sales people will survive in this era.
No one will probably force you, or even persuade you to study the art of sales before starting your own business or seeking employment as a salesperson, but the market has a way of sifting professional sales people from the pack.
In the past the art of sales was akin to the art of persuasion. Mostly, all that was needed to be a sales person was a convincing skill, ability to persist and talk much, or to nag until you get an order, and in some instances a pleasant personality to spice it.
The role of a sales person was basically to convince and persuade a prospect to take your offering and not your competitor’s. The information was scant and most prospects were ill informed.
However, today customers are well informed, have access to information and actively participate in making a sound decision.
For instance, though they cannot treat themselves, most patient have above average knowledge of their illness and can engage a doctor in prescribing the right treatment. In other words, they can tell a quark from a professional, and tell the former off.
The doctor must sell themselves as a professional on a mission to help patients rather than a merchant, in order to gain trust of their patients.
Equally your success as a sales person is first to sell yourself as an expert or a reliable consultant. You need to portray yourself, and be perceived by your prospects and customers as someone with valuable expertise, high integrity, commitment to excellence and always mindful of customers utmost good rather than another self-serving trader trying to access their pockets.
It is only after you gain acceptance and recognition from your prospects and customers that you can introduce your products and sell.
Thus the perceived value of the product will be greatly influenced by the person selling it rather than the product itself. If customers don’t see you as a professional or as a friend, they will not consider your product favourably regardless of its merit.
This is partially one of the reasons why most firms with good products are struggling in the market and are beaten hands down by what essentially should be underdogs in the market.
It is the same reason most sales people selling very strong products are living like flower girls compared to their professional colleagues who always carry the day.