Girl Talk Career Blog

May 25, 2010

Kids Make the Best Salespeople

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 2:27 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

You’re a saleswoman. You are you just don’t remember it very well. From the time you were in Girl Scouts (or Girl Guides or Brownies), to the time when your school was selling chocolate covered almonds to the time when you were selling god knows what for some youth sports organization you have been in sales and you’ve probably been quite good at it too.  Maybe you’re still in sales and now you are stellar at it. Congrats. I’m envious. I suck at sales or at least I think I do. I don’t know because I don’t have the confidence to try it anymore, not like when I was a Brownie or selling chocolates for my school.

Even when I sold chocolates I found that usually getting through one caseof them was the best I could do. If I happened to return to school to get a second case to sell that was unusual and I never ended up selling all the chocolates the second time around. At the time I didn’t know why. But now I do and it’s one of the reasons I have enough sense personally to stay away from sales but that’s another blog entirely. Here are a few reasons why kids are great at sales and usually are natural sales reps:

  1. They’re cute.  When the doorbell rings and you open it expecting to see some bloated, decrepit neighbour and it’s a sweet little smiling face that is unexpected and it’s just cute.
  2. They usually smile at you when you open the door.
  3. They have their product held up very visibly for everyone to see, no surprises there.
  4. They let everyone know straight up they’re selling something. No b.s.
  5. They usually have no ulterior motive. Selling cookies for Girl Guides isn’t going to make anyone richer. In fact it doesn’t make GG richer either.
  6. We want them to succeed and feel good about themselves.
  7. They’re honest (at least about why they’re selling whatever it is they’re selling).
  8. They’re usually confident probably because they are new to this game and it’s exciting.
  9. They have nothing to lose. Their mortgage doesn’t depend upon their commission.
  10. They don’t negotiate. They can’t. That means you know they aren’t holding back on you to line their own pockets. They’re given a price to work within and that’s that. No haggling.
  11. They don’t sell defective products (almonds are almonds and they don’t need a warranty).
  12. They’re guileless.

You were all those things once and maybe you still are in some ways. If you are in sales however you know that isn’t true. If you aren’t in sales then you probably can check off about 10 out of 12 of those items on the list as your personal characteristics.  Adults aren’t as impressive in sales and not in terms of their commission obviously. But as soon as someone tries to sell me something I am immediately suspicious and annoyed. I know if I want something. I know if I want your help. You cannot and will not talk me into anything I do not want. My mind is made up as soon as I look at whatever it is you are selling. Seriously. I’m a Virgo and man we are stubborn. 

When I walk out of a change room after trying on a dress that makes me look pregnant and the salesgirl says “how did you do?” I have learned to say quite blatantly and loudly enough for every woman in the store to hear “I love the dress but I’m too fat!”  Do I give a rot? I mean seriously by the end of the day I will have forgotten about the dress, the store and the salesgirl anyway and I’m sure it is entirely mutual. I’m not a person to her I’m a commission. I understand. She has a job to do and a mortgage to pay. That’s why I am not influenced by her (or him) since clearly her opinion has to be biased and false. She has to lie in order to make her money. Kids don’t. They never try to get you to change your mind. If you say no thanks they say okay and they leave. Why don’t adults do that? Oh right I know.

Sales rep training is all about persuasion and getting a person to see why they need something in spite of their instinct to say no. It’s all about breaking down barriers and natural resistance, in other words treating people as if they are stupid. How do I know this? I’ve been trained in sales. I was good at it. I hated it. I didn’t like selling a product even though I was totally honest about it and my trainer never once said to lie or b.s. anybody or work against their natural resistance (I didn’t do any cold calling).

But as I trained I went along with a woman who did try to do just that not once but twice with the same man who was gracious (or stupid) enough to allow her to come back onto his premises. He insisted he felt the product “wouldn’t fly” and that he wasn’t interested. After we left she said to me “he’ll buy.” I wondered what meeting she had been at that I apparently had missed. Personally I wouldn’t have let her back on the premises when she returned the second time, let alone a third time if she ever went back. (Incidentally the client was right – the product didn’t catch on and he saved himself a bit of money).

Adults ought to learn to do the same thing as kids if they want to sell a product. Really. Consider some of their silly sales tactics as if we, the feeble public, don’t get what it is they’re doing:

  1. Don’t say ‘sign’ the contract. Say ‘authorize’ since ‘sign’ sends up a warning flag to people.
  2. Find out what that person’s weakness is personally and prey upon it.
  3. Ask the client questions about her needs before you begin then plan your sales pitch around that.
  4. work under the principle of the 7 reasons why people buy stuff:
     1. Make money
    2. Save money
    3. Save time
    4. Save effort
    5. Improve health
    6. Increase pleasure
    7. Elminate pain

Personally I find it creepy when a person gets all kinds of contrived, psychological sales training to read my needs and mind and try to sell to that. I hate being treated like a marionette and the sales rep is the puppeteer. There are people who disagree with me of course but that’s usually whenthey refer to using children to make adult sales. Not the same thing at all.

 I bought a car in February this year and I am in love with it. However no one sold me the car. I went to the lot armed with the knowledge that this was 90% likely the car I would buy. I found it on the internet, I checked out the price and the appearance, the mileage on it and the year and I drove down to the lot to take it for a test drive. As soon as I saw it I knew it would be mine. The salesman didn’t say a word to try to sell it to me. He didn’t have to and he seemed to know that. Mind you his company sells only used cars from Enterprise Rentals and all of the cars are in great shape, given an inspection before they are sold and of course with the law being what it is in Ontario now sales reps have to be forthcoming if a car has been in an accident or not.

I would have bought the car that day except the colour I wanted wasn’t on the lot. The next morning I went back and purchased it and four days later I drove it home. No joke. He didn’t sell me and it would have been to his detriment if he did. I would have just shut him down anyway. I think the reasons I bought the car that day are because a lot of things happened there that paralleled sales transactions with children:

  1. I liked the product.
  2. I wanted to buy it.
  3. There was no pressure on me to buy.
  4. I already knew I wanted it before I even got there.
  5. He was guileless.
  6. He had nothing to hide and he had to be very forthcoming when we asked about the car’s history. It was also easy to trace it.
  7. I went to him so clearly it was obvious he had something to sell. No surprise there.
  8. He was pleasant. He smiled a lot.

I bet he sold a lot of Boy Scout cookies when he was a kid.