Projecting confidence. Identifying influencers and stakeholders. Figuring out where the bathroom is. These are essential skills for a salesperson to possess, but they’re just as useful when you’re heading back to school. Since that’s exactly what the kids are doing these days, I was wondering if there were any other lessons salespeople could learn from back-to-school season.
1. Be yourself. Faking only makes it worse.
The most important thing I learned from Mean Girls (and I learned a lot¸ trust me) is that pretending to be someone you’re not will blow up in your face. This is especially true for salespeople, who love to throw around the old “fake it ‘til you make it” chestnut.
You might be able to fool a prospect for a while, but if you’re trying to pass yourself as an expert in an industry or product you don’t know, they will find out. It might be before you close the deal, it might not, but if you don’t want to end up in somebody’s Burn Book, you should stick to being yourself.
2. Review your notes from last year.
This sounds like the nerdiest advice I could possibly give, but it works! The first few days of school are usually a review, and there’s no better way to look like a genius than to have the material fresh in your mind. From a sales perspective, if you’ve ever dealt with a customer in the past, get to know their file. If not, check them out on social media.
You might have a thousand stupid questions down the line, but if you come out of the gate strong they’ll just assume asking those questions is how you got so smart.
3. If you don’t know the rules, play it safe.
Whether you’re starting at a new school, or just getting a new teacher, it’s going to take some time to figure out the rules – written and unwritten. You can safely assume no running, no swearing, no chewing gum are pretty standard, but start by asking to go to the bathroom and keeping your phone in your pocket.
The same is true when you’re meeting a new prospect. Find out if they prefer phone calls or emails, ask if you can take notes and generally err on the side of conscientiousness and decorum.
4. You can’t be friends with everyone. Don’t force it.
Making friends is important, but there are some people you’re just not going to gel with. If you try to force it, you’ll just look desperate. For a salesperson, this is equally true with prospects. You might be 100% sure you’ve got the right solution for them, but if they don’t want it you can only push so much.
Maybe they’re happy with what they have, maybe they’re strapped for cash, and maybe they think your Spiderman backpack is lame. Either way, it’s their loss.
5. Bring Fruit Roll-Ups for lunch.
If everything goes off the rails, you can always make friends with candy.
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