Being in sales for most of my adult life, I started my career selling computer hardware and peripherals in the late 1990’s. I made it through the “dot bomb” and the “great recession” by recreating myself and my craft to fit the times in which I was in. Striving to always outperform and to improve upon my previous month or quarter. I’ve read numerous sales coaching books, taken numerous sales methodology classes and have read hundreds of blogs on effective sales practices. What I didn’t see until recently was that some of the bestselling techniques and lessons were coming at me within the comfy confines of our home. I’m not talking about the Sunday paper, late night infomercials or advertisements. I’m talking about my kids. When they want something bad enough, they know how to build a business case and a vision of the acquisition. They pitch me on the need for the latest toy or gadget, they have the budget (my wallet) and they have persistence and a never quit attitude. My kids are perfect pitchmen and it’s amazing that I don’t fall for their tactics more often.
Recently my daughter volunteered to help with a fundraiser for her high school softball team. She committed to sell 50 coupon books at a cost of $10.00 each. When she came home and told me that she was going to sell $500.00 worth of coupon books in 10 days I was a bit skeptical that should could sell all of them. Then I got to thinking, she sells mom and dad on stuff all the time. The end result would leave me very impressed with her sales plan, her overall result and she taught me a few common sense sales lessons.
Lesson #1: Create the need
One of the highlights of watching my daughter sell was the way she created the need. We went to one of our neighbors houses, knocked on the door and waited for it to be answered. The lady of the house answered, after the short introduction and reason for the visit, my daughter identified that the home owner had dogs and cats. With a quick pitch of the product, she then keyed in on this prospects potential need. “ Ma’am, I see that you have children and animals, this coupon book offers one free room of carpet cleaning. A $40.00 value.” Done deal. She immediately sold the deal because she addressed a particular need that this person had.
Lesson #2: Know your audience
Knowing that the coupon books were filled with great local coupons, she identified members of our family who like to do business with the businesses represented in the coupon book. “Dad, grandma uses this car wash every week. I bet I can sell her 2 of these books” She was right. Not only does my mom use the car wash in the book she bought the 2 books as predicted.
Lesson #3: If they like you, they will buy from you
It’s human nature to want to do business with people you like. I asked my daughter how she was able to sell out of coupon books within a week. She said, “it’s simple dad, if you are nice to people they will be likely to buy from you". I couldn’t agree more with that statement. If I had a rude or condescending sales person working with me, I would walk away from whatever the product or service was immediately.
Lesson #4: Sell the benefit of the product or service
Within the coupon booklet, there is over $400.00 in savings if you used all of the coupons. One of the coupons was for a free oil change at a local Mechanic, typically a $30.00 Service. She looked at this offer and said, “Dad, look at this! You can get a $30.00 oil change for just $10.00! A $20.00 savings…” She recognized the ROI benefit to each of the offers.
Lesson #5: Build a Strong team and use your network
Having more feet on the street will lead to more sales. Using your network of extended family and friends will help you to get more coverage. At 16 years old there is no doubt that she is all about social networking. Always on her handheld device. She immediately went to recruiting family members to help sell her goods. Yes, I did sell a few for her, but she initiated it. She came to me and said “Dad, I need you to sell 10, I need mom to sell 10 and I need each grandma to sell 5. That leaves me with only 20 to sell.” So I got my marching orders. The next day at work I hit up my co-workers with the awkward sales pitch for my daughter. I sold 9. 1 Shy of the 10 she needed. But being a proud successful sales person, I sold the last one to myself without her knowing. I couldn’t look her in the face and tell her I only sold 9, not meeting my quota. That would be a disgrace on multiple levels.
All in all these 5 lessons made me think how I should keep things simple in my approach and have fun as my daughter did while helping her team. By the end of the first week she had sold all 50 coupon books (She hit her goal!). She was so successful and eager to sell more, she went to her coach and asked for 20 more coupon books. She sold those remaining 20 for a grand total of 70 books totaling $700.00. This was more than double what any other kid sold. She was so excited and proud of her accomplishment. But what she didn’t realize was the lessons she taught me through this exercise.