Years ago in my very first sales job I had to sell Medicare supplemental insurance to 65+ year olds.
Picture this, I was ten weeks back from my second maternity leave, had two babies in daycare and climbing the stairs of 3 story tenement homes meeting Portuguese only speaking clients (mind you I didn’t speak a lick of the language) and I was in one of the highest crime cities in America.
I entered the sales world unwillingly, I didn’t want to sell but my Account Management job had been eliminated while I was on maternity leave. Quitting wasn’t an option so I took the job, studied for my life and health insurance license in between working, nursing my baby and chasing a 2 ½ year old. Somehow I managed to pass the exam (the second go around).
It was a salary + commission job which meant that my commission was the majority of my pay. Being low woman on the totem pole I got the territory no one wanted.
They trained me the corporate and masculine focused way…heavy on force and never accepting no for an answer. It felt wrong and unnatural.
The first few sales appointments were the worst. I cried in the car after each one because I couldn’t close the clients (and because the too tight suits I was wearing were bursting at the seams thanks to “Baby #2”).
Clearly I wasn’t cut out for selling.
One day I went home and told my husband that I was quitting and decided I would get another job. He suggested I make the most of it until I found something else.
So I didn’t care what happened, I knew I wouldn’t be long for the sales world.
That’s when everything changed. Within weeks I was the #2 sales person in the office.
What changed you ask? I relaxed and began talking to the family members who were interpreting for their parents. I became me and treated each and every person with compassion and kindness by listening to what they really wanted and offering solutions that did and when a sales wasn’t right, I walked away.
I was selling and I was doing it my way.
That’s when I discovered that selling didn’t have to suck. That when you present the right offer to the right person who needs it then selling isn’t selling it’s offering.
Now in my work with private clients I see many of them struggle with their sales conversations and stumble over the entire process. I now love teaching them how to develop this crucial muscle for their business and livelihood.
If I can share anything with you about selling that will help you close more clients it’s that pushing repels and giving gets. Give what they want and you’ll get the business. It may not be at that moment but it will be in time.
I stayed in that job a full nine months and left because I was offered an Account Executive and Sales position working with corporations. A year later I left United Health Care to manage a staff of ten sales representatives and design sales, marketing and commission program for another company. Every job I’ve had since 1997 has been in sales.
These days I look back and think about the elderly men and women who depended on me to guide them into making the right sale and I thank them for helping me develop one of my strongest business skills.
Bottom line, selling doesn’t have to suck.
I’d love to hear from you…what’s your approach to selling? Is it something you feel you’re good at or a muscle you still need to develop?
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