The Book

Sales Professionals, Managers, Entrepreneurs, Business Owners and, Management Students here is a book you must not miss for all practical reasons! Be the first ones to own the original concepts and apply them to grow limitlessly in sales. Order your copy here:

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Know the Book

Like everyone who read the agree, this book is the difference between what you know as sales vs what really happens when you deal with live customers. With a real customer what you need is a process that will eliminate the pitfalls and help you overcome the pressure of the product, competition and price challenges and still win the deal in the end.

POSITIVE SELLING is a very strong sales structure, with core focus into mastering selling skills and boosting your conversion rate with market-tested processes that are adopted by many high performing salespeople.

Preview of each Chapter:

Cold Sweat

What happened to that customer?” My manager asked me once the customer left the showroom.

He left, sir,” I replied sheepishly.

I know that, fool”. “Tell me why did he leave?” “He was very much interested in buying a copier” asked my manager.

I really don’t know”. “He asked me about the offline model of the copier and I explained to him everything in detail”. “He had many questions about the machine and I answered every question satisfactorily,” I answered.

Then what happened?” my manager raised his voice a bit.

I started to sense that there was something wrong in the way I handled the customer but I could not really figure out what it was. So I replied, “Then he told me it was time for him to leave and left.

That’s it?” asked my manager looking angrily at me. It was my first day at work and I was looking to make a good impression but it looked to me that things are going to be difficult for me.

That’s it?” he asked again raising his voice. People on the shop floor including my colleagues were looking at me and I became very cold. “Follow me to my cabin.” Said my manager and started walking towards his cabin. He was stomping his shoes on the floor and my heart started thumping faster, as I followed him silently.

We reached his cabin and he almost threw himself to his chair and asked,

“What are you supposed to do here?” “Do you know?”

Sir, I am supposed to explain technical aspects of the machines to customers who approach me,” I replied.

“And?” he demanded

“Take all their questions and give appropriate answers,” I replied.

“And?” he shouted again and I saw fire in his eyes.

“Treat them very well, be polite and talk softly to them, sir.” I somehow completed that sentence.

“And?” “Are you not supposed to sell?” he literally screamed.

“Yes sir, but today is my first day at work,” I answered politely.

“So?” he looked at me angrily. “Do you know anything about sales?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, I have to explain features of various machines to customers, talk to them politely and treat them nicely and...”

“You are fired!” “Get out of my sight before I throw you out myself.” He screamed even before I could complete and slammed the door behind me. I walked out, to be greeted by many staring eyes. I did not know what to do so I took my bag and walked out of the showroom slowly.

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“I can’t see ’coz my eyes are closed!”

Where do you make these chocolates?” the customer I was dealing with asked me. She was a middle- aged lady who wanted to buy plenty of chocolates to be used at her daughter’s birthday celebration party.

“I am not sure but I can say that they are made at a good place in hygienic conditions, our products are completely safe,” I told her with a lot of confidence.

“But how do you know?” she asked again.

“I am sure ma’am because we are selling them since many years and we never get any complaint.” I tried to reason with her.

“Are your products certified by any government agency?” She was in no mood to let me go. I normally don’t get questions like these but this lady seems to be hell-bent on troubling me.

“Yes, of course!” “Ma’am, they have passed all safety standards, don’t worry,” I replied appearing to be confident and also intending to instil some confidence in her.

“Can you tell me details of them and explain what all norms they cover?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am I can explain all of that to you later but can I take your order first, please?” I asked in an effort to smartly divert her attention.

“No no, let’s discuss this first and I will place the order after that.” she insisted.

“But ma’am I will have to check with my manager and get that information for you. It will take some time, can you wait?” I thought of involving my manager in the conversation.

“So you don’t know any of that yourself and you are still selling them confidently, shame on you.” said the customer curtly and left the shop agitated.

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Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

“I don’t understand why I am asked to meet customers door-to-door and sell the product? Because I thought I am appointed as a business development executive and should be doing business development related activities”, I asked my manager rather irritated.

I joined this company two months ago as a business development executive. I was told during the selection process that I will be reporting to the business development manager and assist him in various activities. But all I am asked to do from the beginning of the second month is to go to the field and do door-to-door sales. My company produces hobby kits for kids.

“But aren’t you helping the company generate revenue when you sell our products door-to-door?” asked my manager.

“Yes, but I am not doing business development,” I complained.

“So what?” she looked at me.

“I wanted to do a business development related job and that is what the company recruited me for,” I argued.

“Business development is sales as well. Don’t you know?” She gave me a look that questioned my knowledge.

“I know, but, it is different from sales isn’t it?” I was not in a mood to take her nonsense.

“Is it? Because you were not able to make any sales for last few weeks you are coming out with excuses like these?” she tried to taunt me.

“No, not at all, I want to develop my career in business development so when I saw this company’s job posting for a business development executive I applied and got selected. Now you are asking me to do sales. Is that right?” I asked her.

“Are you arguing with me?” “When you take a salary from the company you must do everything the company asks you to do”, you are not making any sales and arguing with me, is that what you are good at?” “You are not able to do a simple thing like door-to-door sales I am sure you will not become much of a business development executive”, she remarked with a sarcastic smile.

“In that case, I must resign and leave the company, is that what you mean?” I asked.

“That is a call I would leave up to you.” “But, you must do door-to-door sales if you want to continue working in my team” she told in a threatening voice.

“Okay, in that case I will quit this job because I don’t want to do door-to-door sales and I don’t want to work with a manager like you” I walked out, saying that.

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“This is not making sense!”

“Why should I buy this bike from you?” asked the customer. It was a funny looking man who came with his five-year-old son to buy a bicycle for the boy.

“You need one, that’s why!” saying this to him I laughed jokingly. My manager had advised me to use occasions like this to create emotional connect with customers. The customer laughed along with me and I thought things were working out for me.

“Jokes apart; tell me why I should buy from you and not from other companies who also sell bikes.”

“Are you looking for a big discount, sir?” “I think that’s why you are asking such questions” “Don’t worry I will give you good discount. You first choose the model you like then we will talk about it” I told him trying to move ahead.

“No, no you don’t seem to understand. I want to make sure that I am buying the best bike available in the market for my boy that why I want you to explain this to me.” He whispered to me as if he was telling me a secret.

“Oh, I see. I get the picture, sir.” “But as you already know, we are the biggest bike manufacturing company in the country and we make the best bikes” “So you can be sure that you are buying the best when you buy a bike from us,” I told him thinking that will end the discussion and move towards closure.

“That’s what every company in the world say, isn’t it?” What is special about this bike I am planning to buy, can you tell me?” he pointed to a bike in the middle, saying that.

“This one?” I removed the bike from the rack and brought him. “This is the best one I have got here sir, you are a very smart person I must say.” I thought of praising the customer a bit so that I can get his consent to proceed to the next step. “Please take a ride and find for yourself, it is strong and comfortable, I am sure your boy will love it.” I offered the bike to him.

“But you have not answered my question yet.” He asked giving me a funny look.

“Sir you have the bike with you, you can take a ride and find for yourself that you are getting the best” I told him and tried to smile.

“Why do I need the assistance of a salesman if I have to that myself?” He snapped and tried to move away from me.

“Sorry sir, let me explain to you everything about this bike” I tried to neutralize the situation.

“Let it be, I will look for someone else to assist me with my purchase” he walked away saying this.

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Look before you jump!

“What is it that you are trying to sell me?” the customer asked me the moment he picked up my call. I was trying to fix an appointment with him so that I can visit his office and give a presentation about the IT services my company is offering.

“No sir I am not trying to sell anything to you,” I replied immediately since I didn’t want to appear too pushy. I like to project myself as a soft-spoken person.

“So you called me to have a friendly chat, I think” he asked in a sarcastic voice.

“Not really sir, but yes, sort of” I thought this reply would give me a little window of time to start a conversation with him.

“Are you a fool? What are you trying to say?” He shouted rudely.

“Sorry sir I wanted to talk to you about the IT services we offer to companies like yours” I tried to justify and pacify him.

“When I asked you in the beginning what you are trying to sell me you said ‘nothing’ but now you are telling me that you want to talk to me about your IT services, are you offering your services free of cost to me?” He questioned me.

“Not really sir if you like our services you will have to choose a package and pay for it,” I explained.

“Why couldn’t you say that earlier, you stupid, that could have saved me my time?” “Never ever call me again and take me off your calling list” saying this he banged the phone.

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A Different Species

“Please sit comfortably and have this tea” said the man very softly.

I could guess from the surroundings that he might be a monk; he wore a long salt and pepper beard and white clothes and looked very calm and relaxed. I was expecting more of a corporate purchase manager with the look of a hawk and snobbish behavior but here I am meeting a person from another world. When I spoke to him on phone and fixed an appointment he sounded like a seasoned manager. He had asked me all about our products, we are an electronic equipments manufacturing company making security products, and only when he was convinced he gave me an appointment for a face-to-face meet.

“Thank you very much” I said and smiled at him courteously.

“ See, this is a monastery and we are monks staying here, there are about 150 of us occupying two storeys of this building” “Of late, there are issues we are facing at night, many monks complained of hearing noise of footsteps outside their bunker. So, we decided to install some kind of security systems to avoid any untoward from happening.” He explained his need in a nutshell.

“Oh I see, I absolutely see your concern and don’t worry we have the perfect products and solutions to address your concern.” I pulled out my product catalog and started explaining him our products.

“Why don’t you become a monk?” he asked me once I finished my product presentation and price proposition, he theoretically agreed to purchase and asked me to send to him the price quote. I was taken aback hearing that sudden suggestion.

“What do you mean?” I asked him since I could not think of an answer.

“I mean, you are a fine young man – you are intelligent, smart and enthusiastic, you would make a fine monk. This world is an illusion so you don’t see the futility of living a materialistic life” he continued.

I now started getting the point; he is counter pitching to me! Oh my god, I thought, of all places in the world I have to find my nemesis in a monk? I did not know how to react.

“I will surely think about it and send you the price quote for your security systems today itself,” I said.

“Oh sure please send it across and I will process it further, I have to take approval from the mutt trust, you know.” “And you think about my suggestion seriously” he said with great compassion.

“I will,” I said while packing my bag and getting up from my seat to leave.

“You must” he retorted with a smile and closed the door softly behind me.

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“Shhhhh...”

“How may l help you ma’am?” I approached the young lady who was looking at our body massage oil range and thinking she was standing there for sometime from now so I thought of offering her help. She was in her late twenties, nicely dressed but a bit shy.

My company is into wellness, we produce all types of herbal oils for various domestic as well as commercial purposes using a unique cold-press process. We were conducting an exhibition of the full-range of our products at a city exhibition hall. I was assisting my senior business development manager but more of learning the tricks of the trade from him. It was a busy Saturday. During the afternoon time when the crowd was less, my manager went out for lunch asking me to look after customers till she returned.

“Are you looking for something specific?” I asked her moving a little closer to her

“No, not really” She mumbled and moved away.

I too went back to the main counter but continued observing her. She moved around and looked at all products but came back to the massage oil section again and stood there looking at various items. I am sure she wanted something or had some query so I decided to approach her again and did exactly so.

“Ma’am, are you looking for anything specific?” I asked her gain.

She gave me a disinterested look and said, “I am newly married, and...”

“And? Yeah please go ahead” I asked her eagerly.

“And..., no nothing” she stopped abruptly.

“I think you need the massage oil, am I right?” I enquired.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Oh, that’s great, I knew it. Can you please tell me for what purpose you need the oil so that I can suggest the best one suited for you?” I asked trying to help her.

“You must be joking,” she said looking away and looked around to see if anyone else was listening to our conversation and walked away.

“Ma’am, excuse me...” I tried calling her but she walked away as if she did not hear me at all. I was clueless about what went wrong.

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Read between lines

“I am looking for a package for three” The middle-aged man announced loudly.

“Give me the best package for five nights four days” he continued.

We, as the biggest honeymoon tour operator in the country, offer customized guided honeymoon packages to newlywed couple to the best locations, national and international. I was perplexed by his request for a honeymoon package for ‘three’ so I asked,

“What kind of package are you looking for?” I wanted him to clarify.

“What a strange question, you guys offer honeymoon packages, right?” He asked.

“That’s right sir,” I replied politely.

“So why are you asking me that question, of course, I want to book a honeymoon package.” he announced replied authoritatively.

This was getting a bit weird for me why would somebody want to book a honeymoon package for three? I was really confused so I decided to get a bit more clarity and told him,

“But sir normally we book packages for two...”

“So you can’t arrange a package for three?” he asked rudely.

“No, no, we can but I was thinking...” I almost blurted out my puzzle but stopped in the middle.

“Yes, tell me, what are you thinking, is there a problem for you to arrange a package then I will go to your manager and get it done through him, he is a dear friend of mine” he really pinned me down.

“No sir, there is no problem at all I can surely book the package for you right away” I said hurriedly lest the customer go to my manager and complain.

“Please give me the details of the three people so that I can do the needful” I decided to get on with the process solve the puzzle indirectly.

“What details do you need, there are two women aged 28 and 55 and a man, which is me, aged 35” he declared.

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Chalk and cheese

“Are you sure you will get my son admitted in MIT Melbourne?” asked the man in an impolite voice.

As a business owner, I was expecting my customers to show me some respect. I am a start-up that intends to help students who want to study abroad assisting them through the entire process. I started out three ago and after a lot of struggle got my first customer, who I am dealing now. Here sits in front me, a rugged middle-aged man carrying a tough look. I was definitely looking for something more sophisticated and mellow.

“Yes sure in three months your son will be in the university campus doing the course” I replied confidently.

“How I don’t think so, you guys always give false promises and cheat gullible customers and that’s what you salespeople do” he declared in a loud and unfriendly voice.

“Sir I am not a salesman, please don’t treat me like one, moreover I deal in education,” I said trying to protect my dignity.

“What do you mean, are you going to send my son free of cost to Australia to do an MBA?”

“No there are charges involved,” I told him firmly.

“So are you not trying to sell your service to me?” “I wanted to get all information via phone but you compelled us to come down here, why did you insist my wife visit your office, is that how you help your customers?” he raised his voice.

“No sir, I was not trying to cause any inconvenience to you guys but customers who visit my office are serious about their need” I tried to reason with him.

“Who told you so, are you nuts?” “You think I cannot be serious if I take from you information via phone?” “If ten agencies like you call me to their office like you did, do you think I will have the time to do that?” he went on with his charade.

“Sir, if you don’t like my service, that’s okay with me, but please don’t talk to me like that.” I had to say that because he was crossing the limit.

“You are a smart chap, I must tell you, you call a customer to your office and insult like this?” he got up as if to do something, I was scared like hell and kept quiet.

“I don’t think you will help anybody study abroad, let alone my own son” he dashed out murmuring that.

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Done and dusted

“I have not received my delivery” the lady complained.

She had placed a bulk order for cosmetics with me. We are a lifestyle products manufacturing company and we deal with both stockists as well as retail customers. This customer runs a beauty parlor and wanted make-up related products. This is the first time she is buying from us after I assured her of our quality service and competitive prices. I work as a business development manager here and visit prospective customers and convert them to long-term clients.

“Ma’am my delivery department is processing it and I am sure you will receive it as soon as possible” I said trying to pacify her.

“You liar, I spoke to your delivery department and they informed me that they have not received the address from you for my delivery” she called out.

“That’s not true ma’am I have given them every detail they need to make your delivery, please be on hold and let me check my CRM and tell you the address I have given them for your delivery” saying that I opened my CRM and went to her details. To my shock I found out that her address was missing! I had forgotten to take her address or I must have taken it from her but forgot to feed it on the CRM. My head started spinning fast and my throat dried up.

“Tell me the address you have with you?” she demanded.

“Sorry, ma’am ...I don’t have your address” I had to admit my mistake.

“What, she shouted, “but you had taken my address from me”

“Yes ma’am unfortunately I forgot to feed it into the system. Can you please give it to me again? please ma’am” I requested in a feeble voice.

“Cancel my order; I don’t want to deal with a lousy fellow like you” She said angrily.

“Sorry, ma’am this won’t happen again, please don’t cancel the order” I pleaded.

“You promised me quality service and I placed my order with you putting my regular supplier on hold. I made a mistake trusting in a useless person like you.” “Cancel my order and never contact me again” she disconnected the phone saying that.

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Groping in the dark?

“What do you know about our company?” My bespectacled customer asked me giving me a sharp look through her rimmed glasses. She looked more like a school principal to me than a marketing head. I was expecting some cool chic to head the marketing operations of a restaurant chain like theirs.

I was informed about this appointment yesterday by my appointment setter saying that they need some branding services and wanted to share the requirement with someone. Sensing an easy sale I decided to take this lead.

“Nothing much ma’am but I know that you are a fast-growing restaurant chain,” I replied reluctantly.

“That’s all? What about our customers, our competitors the challenges we face in the market etc.?”

“Sorry, ma’am I have not done any research on that?” I admitted.

“So what is the purpose of your visit?” she asked with a dry smile on her face.

“I was informed that you had some requirement you wanted to share with us,” I said.

“And how competent are you to fulfill the same?”

My company is into branding services and serve to a long list of marquee clients. I have just joined them, a few months ago, as a new accounts manager. I am responsible to talk to new prospects and help them onboard.

“As you know ma’am we are a popular agency catering to many reputed clients,” I said proudly.

“I know that and that is exactly my point.”

“Ma’am?” I turned to her asking her to explain.

“You must tell me things that I don’t know and not things I already know.” “I don’t know what brand positioning strategy would work for us, you have any suggestions?” she looked at me.

“As I said earlier I have not done any preparation in that direction so I can’t really comment on that” I managed to tell her.

“Let me ask you a question?” she turned to me asking

“Yes, ma’am, please by all means” I thought she will mellow down.

“Are you new to this job?” she asked

“Yes I am only three months old in this organization,” I answered.

“Okay, you may leave, but if you visit us again for any business please come a little more prepared” she said wryly and stood up and left leaving me in knots.

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Kill it!

“Yes, we want to use your services. Please send me the service agreement and login details so that we can start immediately” The purchase manager of the legal firm I was talking to informed me.

It was music to my ears. I was after this client for more than two months and at last, I could taste success. I work with a software development firm that develops CRMs for the legal fraternity to manage their clients and overall business better. I work as a sales manager hunting for new clients every month.

“Sure sir I will send you the login details right away along with the invoice and service agreement. You can start using it from today itself. I will also arrange a product demo through my technical department to show you how to use the software etc, will 2 pm today be fine with you?” I asked.

“Yes, that will work for me” he agreed and thus it was settled.

I closed the deal and tagged the same in my CRM and generated invoice and service agreement and mailed all of that to the customer along login credentials. I then arranged the product demo session with my technical team and connected my tech team to the customer.

Two months later, I received a reminder email from my accounts department informing me that the payment from the legal firm is still pending and they wanted me to follow-up on that.

I called up the purchase manager’s number,

“Hi, am I speaking to the purchase manager?” I enquired since I could sense that it was not the purchase manager who picked-up my call.

“No, the purchase manager quit the company three weeks ago and we are waiting for the new manager to join us in a month’s time” the voice on the other side informed me.

I became a bit uneasy and asked, “May I know who am I speaking to?”

“I am the accounts manager, how may I help you?” he asked.

“Hello, I am from the software firm that provided you with the CRM. I wanted to remind that the payment of our invoice generated two months ago is still pending and I request you to make the payment as soon as possible” I said.

“Okay, can you please give me your invoice number so that I can check the status?”

“Of course sir, please have it” I gave the invoice details to him.

“I don’t see any invoice uploaded on my system with these details” he informed me.

“That’s strange; I mailed this invoice myself to the purchase manager” I tried to reason with him. “If you want I can forward the same to you again”

“Did you a get a purchase order signed from us?” he enquired.

“No, I did not. But I had sent your purchase manager the service agreement” I said.

“And did you get that signed from him?” asked the accounts manager.

“No, but your people are using our software from last two months!” I raised my voice.

“Maybe, but without a signed purchase order or service agreement I will not be able to process your invoice” he informed.

“So what do I do now?” I asked helplessly.

“You will have to wait till the new purchase manager joins and get his approval and get the purchase order signed and then generate a new invoice and then we will make your payment” he explained the company policy to me.

“What about my last invoice?” I asked with great concern.

“There is no way we can honor that invoice” he informed nonchalantly and disconnected the phone.

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“Go, get them!”

“How is your software better than similar software available in the market?” asked my gentleman customer.

“Our software is custom-made for your special needs so it saves your time and helps you generate all reports you need in a matter of seconds, you won’t get anything like this in the market,” I replied beaming with pride.

I and my childhood friend started this accounting software company to help small businesses to customize their accounting process and simplify it for them. We both have more than fifteen years of experience in working as accountants in MNC’s and once we felt we are done our career we decided to float a company to help small businesses. Since I am good in communication skills I took the responsibility of sales and business development and my friend is looking after the technical side of our business.

“But don’t you think that for a small unbranded company like yours the price you are charging is too much?” He asked.

“Yes our prices are high compared to branded software but we don’t have many customers like the big brands,” I said hoping that he will understand.

“What do you mean?” the gentleman asked. He is the owner of a medium size eatery located strategically right in the middle of the town.

“Okay, I think you didn’t get my point, let me explain when you use a branded products you are not helping small businesses like us. We are giving you better quality than what they provide”

“I fail to make sense of what you are trying to say” said my customer.

“That is because you don’t know how the software industry and these big branded companies work I have fifteen years of experience working with them so I know them better. They offer you many features that you never need as a small business” I wanted to show him how branded companies rob them without their knowledge.

“But why should I know these things and how are they concern me or my business?” he wanted to know.

Poor fellow, I thought, I am here to make his life easy through our terrific software but he doesn’t understand that.

“Can I give you a demo of my software to show what I mean?” I asked.

“No need because I have already seen your demo that’s why I asked why you are charging such a high price” he said in a disinterested tone.

“Okay then that is your loss boss, I wanted to give you something to make your life easy but you don’t seem to understand that, I am sorry to say” I packed my bag thanked him for the hospitality and left.

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To hell and back

“I am not interested” declared the customer.

“But why, ma’am, we will get you more customers,” I said

“We don’t need more customers,” said she.

I found that hard to digest, why someone wouldn’t want more customers. She must be trying to avoid me. So I tried to be frank with her said,

“Ma’am I don’t want to beat around the bush, but you are trying to avoid me right?”

“No, I am telling you the truth. We don’t need more customers” she repeated.

“Are you going to shut your business down?” I asked

“No, we are not,” she said without batting an eyelid.

“So why wouldn’t you want more customers?” I almost screamed.

“That’s because we are a small manufacturing unit with limited production capacity and we can’t handle more than a small number of customers at a time, at the moment we are in a situation where we are unable to fulfil even the quantity needed by our regular customers and that is why we are not looking to acquire any new customers for the time being” she explained in a cool and composed manner.

“Oh, I see...” I went silent after that.

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“Hello, are you still there?”

“Hi Jacob, this is Alice this side”

“Hi Alice, how may I help you?”

“’What do you do for a living, Jacob?”

“Nothing, I am unemployed. What are you selling, Alice?”

“I am selling credit cards, do you need one?”

“Yes, but what are the eligibility criteria?”

“Nothing, Jacob.”

“Nothing? really?”

“Yeah, you heard me right, no eligibility criteria.”

“Okay, then issue me one.”

“Great! but there is one thing that you must do”

“What is that?”

“You must pay $25 as service charge.”

“Okay, I will pay that.”

“Cool, thank you Jacob, and there is one more thing that you need to do.”

“What now?”

“You have to provide me details of other credit cards you are already using, you are using other cards aren’t you?”

“Yes, but why do you need the details of my other cards?”

“Because, we need a valid address to mail you the new card.”

“That sounds okay to me.”

“There one last thing you must provide to complete the process.”

“What else?”

“You have to send me your last three months bank statement.”

“But why?”

“Because we need to see the salary credited for the last three months in your account.”

“But I told you that I am unemployed and you told me that there are no eligibility criteria ...”

“Yes that’s true there are no eligibility criteria but I will need your bank statement without which I will not be able to process your application...hello...Jacob, are you there...hello, Jacob are you there...I can’t hear you ,speak to me sir are you still there...”

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Cloak and dagger game

Social media and various online platforms provide a great opportunity for salespeople. Everyone working in the field of sales & marketing or any business related activities should reckon this opportunity and leverage the same to get ahead professionally. But putting the digital place including social media to good use is easier said than done because of multiple reasons. Many sales professionals don’t understand the set-up and purpose of these platforms. There is so much happening on the digital space on a daily basis – there are new platforms coming up, existing platforms are revamping their purpose and policies a lot of platforms become obsolete too soon. These changes and hustle and bustle creates a lot of confusion and uncertainty in our mind as to how to use them in a manner which benefits us the most.

The first and foremost thing one should understand about online, internet or social media is that you should be the anchor and create your identity around your persona and not the other way round. Never do things because a Facebook is available out there or a Snapchat has some special features that you can use or an Instagram allows you to upload photos etc. Let me share four stories about people I know (names changed) to explain this further:

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Down but not out

Sales is a tough job, let’s accept that because it demands much from you physically and mentally. I started my job as sales professional in the telecom instruments manufacturing industry, the largest one in the country. I was appointed as a market development officer. I was, at that time, this young and energetic lad, about 26 years of age when I took up my first job. The job description suggested that I have to work with the existing distributor and dealer network of the company in the metropolitan region. I was very excited about the job and was confident that I can do a good job since I have very good communication skills. A few weeks into the job I realized that it was a very tiring job physically since I had to visit two distributors and 20+ dealers every single day. By the time I finish my daily visits it will be late evening, around 7 pm, and then I had to travel back to my home around 50 kilometers backward. I would be totally exhausted by the time I reach home. I would have my dinner and straight away hit the bed since I would have no energy left for anything else. The reporting time was morning 9 am sharp meaning I had to get up at 6 in the morning the next day. I did this job for two years before moving on to my next organization.

I can say from my experience working with a cross section of professionals, as a sales consultant and coach, that this is the typical work-life of any person who is in hardcore selling. Your situation may improve over a period of time especially later in your career when you are accepted for your work and performance but even after that, there might not be a great change in your daily routine since that is the nature of the work. You will still be meeting customers, working around targets, making and presenting reports, attending sales meetings, making sales projections, travelling extensively etc. The environment and work routine may become familiar over a period of time but that doesn’t make it any easier. But when you compare the good things sales give you, you still want to continue in sales because it is your passion, it is where you thrive and it is your calling!

What helps a typical sales professional to cope up with the daily demands of the profession? There are many things but motivation is the single biggest factor. Motivation is what you need each morning to get up, get ready and get out to the battlefield after knowing that a challenging day waits you there. Motivation is air for a salesperson in the absence of which a salesperson will struggle to survive and wilt down gradually.

Motivation is what makes you treat the next customer with dignity even though your last customer has turned you down so badly. Motivation is what gives you the energy you need to go for the kill in the next call each time even after you hear a ‘no’ from your previous customer . Motivation is what makes you regain your enthusiasm when your ‘self-doubt’ tries to suck the life force out of you. Motivation is what supplies you with the ‘can do’ self-belief each time someone calls you a loser. Motivation is what makes you rise above from the ashes of your failures and embrace your rightful success! Nothing can replace motivation for a salesperson. It puts the magic back in you. It brings you back on the track. It makes you feel in control.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Performance mediocrity is the biggest challenge every salesperson faces across ranks. I often come across, I am sure every person associated with sales must have faced this, this strange situation where every salesperson justifying their performance irrespective of their level of performance. Every single salesperson says what they have achieved is the best anyone in their situation can achieve, with respect to their target realization. I found, most strikingly, organizations failing to confront this situation logically with backing from a reliable tool or system that can be understood and followed so that salespeople stop justifying and start improving and bettering their performance. Instead, organizations take a hire-and-fire policy creating imbalance and insecurity amongst sales professionals.

Let me share a personal experience to put things in perspective, many years ago I was hired by this organization as a sales executive to sell advertisements in various hardcopy publications. This organization had a service background but decided to enter into sales and recruited many people like me to handle their sales. When I started the monthly target given to me was $1250 and it was the same for almost everyone except a few people who were taking a higher salary and their target was $2000. We started selling and nobody achieved their full target in the first couple of months. But I hit $3200 and $3500 respectively in the second and third month and the company increased everyone’s target to $3500 from the fourth month onwards and the justification given was if one person can achieve it then everyone should. I hit $5200 and $5500 next two months and the company repeated the same thing by increasing the targets of the whole team to $5500. The same explanation followed. I continued upping my ante and hit $7000 and $7300 next two months and company too continued its trend and increased everyone’s monthly target to $7500. I sort of peaked there and continued with an average of $7500. A few months later a new salesperson joined our team and started hitting numbers like 9500 and 10000 and the company again increased everyone’s target to $10000. Not everyone was hitting their targets but few people who were hitting low targets like $1700 or $2500 graduated to $5000 or $6000 but a few people still were struggling with very low numbers.

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Ride the storm!

If you have to consider sales as a process the driver of this process must be pressure, at least in traditional organizations this is the approach. That means the design of sales process itself is done on the basis or creating pressure points and ways to manage them. A company decides its annual sales targets in line with their growth plan and this decision is taken at the head office and the national sales head is given the responsible to achieve this target for the company. So the national head divides this target and distributes to various zonal heads and the zonal heads hand them over to regional heads and they, in turn, distribute the target between various district heads and they divide it amongst the territory heads. The territory heads divide it between managers and managers finally distribute the target amongst their individual team members.

National headàZonal headsàRegional headsàDistrict headsàTerritory headsàTeam managersàIndividual team-members

Therefore, when individuals from a team doesn’t achieve the target the team manager responsible is questioned by the territory head who will be questioned by district head and regional head questions the district head and regional head is then questioned by zonal head and zonal head by national and national head is then questioned by CEO and CEO is questioned by the board of directors or the owners of the company in that order.

There are pressure points are created and the pressure points are created using the popular ‘carrot-and-stick’ or privileges and responsibilities approach where a set of benefits are offered against a set of responsibilities:

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Fix it!

Every salesperson occasionally goes through a lean period where sales is not happening for you in a great way and you are pulled-up by your superiors for the same reason as a result you feel dejected and low. In some cases, some salespeople may find themselves in a strange situation where they are not able to sell a new product or service they have been assigned to sell whereas they are able to manage sales for other regular things they deal with. Some salespeople may also come across situations where they are not actually able to settle with their sales process in a sense that they are not able to achieve sales targets consistently; for some months they achieve targets and some moths they miss it.

Performance related issues similar to the ones explained above are a reality for any sales professional and we may be bothered by it once in a while. What should sales professionals do on such occasions? Is it okay to go ‘silent’ about it by not talking about it with anyone else in the hope that things will fall in place for you sooner or later? It is absolutely not okay to take such a passive approach on such occasions. You must do everything possible to overcome this challenging situation. You must seek out and get assistance and there are many things you can do constructive to surmount the situation. I am listing a few ideas below:

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Superstar!

If you have chosen sales as a long-term career then you must plan your journey carefully. Many people come to sales without intentionally taking up sales as a career. Sometimes they consider a sales opportunity as an ‘in-between-jobs’ option, sometimes when they don’t get a job of their choice so take-up sales job to keeping their monthly earnings continued, sometimes when they are looking for a job desperately etc. Whatever reason forced them to take up a sales job they eventually get trapped in it like a ‘Hotel California’ never allowing them to get out really. Whichever way you land in sales once you realize that this is going to be your long-term career you must take a few steps back and plan it because a lot of sales professionals throw themselves to uncertainty and chaos due to the lack of this most needed career planning.

Planning your sales career, like any other career, has its unique advantages - it helps you to decide which direction you want to go, tells you the skills needed, gives you an understanding of the hazards involved, tells you about the mental makeup you must have etc. In short, it enables you to keep the control of your career and growth in your own hand. The best way to approach sales as a career is to create your own career goals, make your own path and reach destinations you like to visit. If you approach your sales career this way you surely will have a rewarding career and a memorable journey.

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Separate wheat from chaff

I have the experience of getting fired by a company for no fault of mine at all when I was doing sales for them. Here is the story: this company hired me as an international business development manager purely based on my past high performance record when I worked with them a few years ago. During my last outing, I had done a fabulous job for them as a sales head. When I came back for my second stint they wanted me to do business development handling their training vertical and develop a client base in the UK. They promised me the support of an appointment-setter who will fix-up meetings for me and I will then take things forward from there. I agreed and went on board since training was an area where I had acquired specific domain expertise and I thought I would be able to do a good job for them again. A few days after joining I came to know that they were just starting to set up this vertical from scratch. That means they had no data or domain expertise or collaterals to support their offering while approaching potential clients.

I had nothing to do, literally, for a few days after I started working. So they asked me to get involved in the data mining activities to guide the dada-mining team about the sectors and functions to be tapped and I had to agree since I had nothing else to do. Once some data was ready they said there is no one available in the appointment setting team to fix meetings for me. So they asked me to set my own meetings I did that because I was always a ‘yes, boss’ person and also shared a good rapport with my boss who also happened to the owner of the company. A few months passed in that manner. I could bring a couple of clients on board managing everything end-to-end – I was helping the data-mining team in building a suitable database, setting my own meetings, taking my meetings, generating my leads and finally closing deals. But I could see that my process was not going anywhere neither sufficient data was available nor meetings. I picked up a conversation with my sales head and told all my concerns about data, meetings collaterals etc he advised me to build my own data and when I asked about appointment setter he said I will get one as soon as someone is available.

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  1. Is it compulsory to achieve targets in sales?

Yes, a sales job is all about closing deals and achieving targets.

  1. What should be the average monthly earnings of a salesperson?

It depends. If you are a fresher you must earn 25% more than your monthly expenses but if you have a couple of years of experience under your belt you must earn 50% more than your monthly expenses but if you are professional then almost double of your monthly expenses.

  1. How should I prepare for a sales interview so that I will get selected?

Dress-up smartly, take care of your grooming, know a good deal about your company, have a good reason why you want to do this job and why the company should select you. During the interview remain calm and give answers with confidence don't argue. If you don't know some answers be honest and admit it.

  1. What are the frequently asked sales interview questions?
  • Can you sell something to me, now?
  • Why do you want to work in this industry?
  • What do you know about our firm?
  • Why do you deserve the salary you are expecting?
  • Are you a team player?
  • Are you a good negotiator?
  • Do you possess good leadership skills?
  1. What are the common challenges faced by a sales professional?

Dealing with different types of customers, dealing with bosses, dealing with the pressure of achieving the target, preparing sales reports and multi-tasking.

  1. How to deal with rude customers?

Remain calm but show empathy. Remaining calm helps you avoiding an argument and creating a flare-up and showing empathy calms the customer down paving way for a logical discussion. Involve a senior or your boss if the customer turns abusive.

  1. What are the most important skills needed in sales?

Soft skills like communication skills, people skills, presentation skills, empathy. You must also have other skills like negotiation, time management, personal grooming, deal-making etc.

  1. Are leadership qualities important for a salesperson?

Yes, because sales is all about taking initiative and showing pro-activeness. While dealing with a customer you will always want to take the lead and guide the customer to the right areas. So having leadership skills like taking responsibility, motivating, delegating, creativity, communicating with clarity, empathizing etc will help you manage the customer and close deals.

  1. How to grab the attention of a customer?

Dress-up nicely and be on top of personal grooming. Carry a pleasant, inviting look and smile genuinely. Achieving eye contact is a great way too.

  1. How to deal with competition?

Like the old adage goes 'keep your friends close and your enemies closer'. You must know everything about your competitors. How many are there, what are they selling, what are their USP's, their, pricing, advantages and disadvantages etc. Knowledge is power when it comes to dealing with competitors and you must be better informed about your competitors than your customers.

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