We're going to take a slight detour from our previous topic that discusses whether Medical Sales Rep is a career or just another job. For those of you who have read it, you now have a clearer understanding of the next course of action, and if you're planning to join the medical sales profession, then you already know how to approach it and create a meaningful working life.
When I first step into the sales world, my intention, then, was to generate enough income to enable me to enjoy life, and what it has to offer. The business was way out of my league, at that moment, so, I got myself involved with something close to it:
It turns out that selling IS pretty close to the business
In fact, selling is reputed to be the single most crucial factor in business success.
But I have a different opinion now.
I believe MARKETING is the most critical factor in business success.
That's a topic for another time.
Selling can take place at a different level. At the very basic, the sale happens on a personal level.
People ask, "Why we need to learn personal selling?"
My answer here's why:
Selling Is Transference
Maybe that statement is abstract.
Imagine going to a sundry shop. You're looking for, say, chewing gum. You have 1 buck in your pocket. You saw the $1 chewing gum. You take your money out and hand it to the shop owner.
You just bought a chewing gum, and the owner "sold" it to you.
This transaction happens quite quickly, and it's almost no 'work' whatsoever on the shop owner part.
Well, maybe extending his arm to reach for your one buck is his most strenuous effort.
... You buy. She sells. It's simple.
The same goes for other stuff as well, tangible or not. You may sell something obvious like buffalo or cows, and the girl downtown sells something intangible, like a foot massage.
You need to "sell" them to earn income.
I heard they still use the barter system, but not here and at this age.
Selling Is A Legal Way To Get What's Not Yours
You can choose to rob, steal, cheat, or another nasty way to get other people stuff ...
... But selling is a legal way to do it.
Other people can do it too.
And you don't mind being sold to, compared to cheating too, for example.
A "show-off" businessman once told me, one of his kids could not make a library card because he doesn't have a permanent address.
So, what he did was, he bought a house under his kid name, and the kid got a permanent address hence the library card.
I think it's cheaper to buy the book the child wants, though.
But that's just me.
Selling Is Easy To Scale Up
The ability to multiply is essential, and selling makes it more accessible.
Nokia used to be the top phone seller in the world.
How they did it?
Yes, coming up with more designs is part of the answer. The other part is to cell phone all over the lot.
And I mean A LOT!
Samsung is making a killing in the smart-phone segment right now, and if you look at their advertising, there's no sign of stopping for them.
And they're venturing into the camera with 3G now!
They're scaling up.
Sell, and sell some more. That's how you haul in those profits.
Now, if you're asked why you learn personal selling, then, tell them that trading allows the transfer of what you want with what others have, legally, and from there, you can increase what you own by doing it with more people.
That's why you learn to sell at a personal level.
Personal Selling Story
I can never be tired of telling this personal selling story.
I find it really helpful to show how important it is to sell on a personal level, and I believe it can do the same for you too.
So, here's how the story goes:
A pharma sales rep and a pharmacist were going to an interview for a sales representative job at a giant pharma company. The rep went there because he's frustrated with his current company. He was denied a vast sum of sales incentives after he delivered a fantastic performance.
Clearly, he was frustrated and looking for a breath of fresh air.
The same goes for the pharmacist. His job was so redundant he tried selling cars, part-time. He wished for the more challenging (and rewarding) career in the pharmaceutical industry.
The sales rep got to come in first for the interview. He was in for slightly over an hour, and he came out smiling.
The pharmacist went in next. It took almost the same time as it was for the rep, but he came out looking confused.
The sales rep got the job.
It's a good thing too, for the pharmacist, because he's a learner.
Believe it or not, he asked the interviewer why he did not get the position.
Somehow, the interviewer willingly shared with him why.
In summary, this was what the interviewer said:
"You came in showing us your degree and qualifications, which is impressive, and of course, all that is important to us. But, what more important is, you need to prove to us that you can deliver results.
Yes, you're qualified, but can you deliver? That's the question."
The interviewer paused, then continued:
"The other guy (sales rep), came in also with qualification. Maybe not as glaring as you, but he got something extra. He showed us his sales performance for the whole of last year. If there's one qualification I'd like to see in any candidate, then performance is it. It proves that he or she can deliver, and that's more important right now than mere paper qualification."
It's a lesson the pharmacist will never forget ...
... It's a lesson that you want to remember.
Sell your ability, not just potential:
That's what personal selling is all about.
End of story.
Selling Skills: Transferable Skills With A TwistI'm actually aiming this post about selling skills, having transferable value built in them, for salespersons who are selling on the street and think they can equally sell the same way online.
Yes, you can, but you need to twist the skills.
And I'm not giving lip service here. I've gone through it myself from early 2007 to early 2008 (give or take a year). That was when I took the VSS. I suddenly found myself with ample time and money.
And ample selling skills to boot.
I saw selling stuff online was very tempting. I know how to sell. I have knowledge of products. And I have experience in the market ...
... I think I can sell online.
Do you know the indispensable tool to start selling online?
You don't ever, ever have it when selling on the street:
A website ...
... Or websites, if you want to sell lots of different kinds of stuff.
This is the starting point were selling online, and selling on the street starts to differentiate:
On the road, you have brochures, samples, exhibition booths, and face to face time with prospects.
On the world wide web, you don't have the luxury of all that, especially, the face to face interaction.
On the street, like my job as a pharma sales rep, I worked with a list of customers which database already exists with the company.
On the internet, I got to start from ground zero.
I got to build my database from scratch using strategies that I've never utilize anywhere before.
I don't know how pharma companies build their database.
I have a rough idea, but I can't tell for sure.
For example, the recent product launch that I went through, the target customers were acquired by paying the distributors, that also distribute competitors' products.
But on the Net, who do I know?
Where can I possibly get leads to promote to?
That's one thing ...
... Another big thing is the product(s) to promote.
When I joined a pharma company, it has a catalog of products, or product portfolios, for me to work on. I got the market, and the products too.
Compare that to selling on the Net ...
... I got no market to start, and I got no product to promote.
And there are two ways to go from here:
to develop my own product
to promote someone else product.
Since I already sold volumes of pharma company products in the real world, I thought, "Selling someone else product is the way to go."
And I did that ...
... I had a few successes to be proud of.
But I can't point exactly how I sell them. I don't know which method produces sales. It's so much more comfortable selling on the street. I can quickly tell who buy, and how to best sell to them.
It sounds like there is so much to do when selling online.
And there are, actually.
On the street, salespersons only sell. The more prominent function, marketing, is done by another department. And to ensure they sell effectively, the training department comes into the picture.
And my most significant challenges here:
To train me with new ways to sell online
To build market
To find a product.
Picture doing all these simultaneously.
I can tell you, it's not easy ...
... It can be done, but not as easy.
But if you know how to twist your street selling skills, you probably have a chance:
How to wrap these skills?
How to adapt them to be able to sell online?
How to find equivalent online sales skills with their street counterparts?
Should I come up with a blueprint on how to do this effectively, and sell it to you?
Let me share one example:
I came across a digital product, a guide on how to sell anything online, written by an expert. I became his affiliate ...
... What that means is, I got to promote his product and earn a commission from the purchase made through me.
I remember my exact strategy when I sell this.
I build a site, a blog at that time, and I start creating content around the subject. The product creator also helps to give ideas and suggestions for his affiliates to promote his product.
Of course, their success means success ...
... And that's all I did for this product.
It works because the content resonates with the targeted audience. The search engines deliver interested people, or at least, people who are looking for what this product offer, to my blog (another online selling method that needs to be learned). If things go according to plan, some visitors click on the link, and some of them end up buying the product.
Essentially it means:
They're sold on the product ...
... And I successfully sell to them.
The task, then, is to maintain the momentum.
Very much like selling medicines in the real market:
You get one prospect to buy, then another, and another, and another ...
... And you grow from there.
Yes, I did sell a thing or two on the internet, but the selling skills which I acquired through years of marketing on the street, become meaningful when I adapt them to the online environment.
To sell online, the way I did in the real world is totally futile.
I Can Sell Better Than You
There were times when I went to a specific food stall for snacks or certain restaurants for meals, and I wonder why they were the ones in business. With such services (and foods, of course), I believe I can deliver better.
In short, I always feel like I can sell better than them!
But the questions are:
Why didn't I?
Why they're the ones in business instead of the "better" me?
Making such a claim is damn easy.
When it comes to reality when the rubber really meets the road, people like me, just complain.
I tell people:
"Look, if you don't like what you're getting here, sell your own. You can have it any way you like ..."
And it seems to end there.
If I were in the same situation, and spit the same comment, the voice in me asked the exact question, and I was left stumped.
In my current pharma sales industry, I do throw the same comment (in silence, of course), when I saw people went on stage to claim their bounty.
I always amazed by how they did it.
And I'll say things, to comfort me, and in a way, degrade others, that:
they're just lucky
they have a "nice" boss
they have sell-able products
they have a high potential area
they just plain lucky!
But, if I were the one who grabs the prize, well, I said:
"I go through a war for this. I survived. And I have a scar to show!"
Sounds lame, right?
That's why I decided to sit and crank this post while sipping my cup of coffee.
I thank Allah, and just want to enjoy this moment.
Can You Sell Without Turning Into Salesperson?
I got a question the other day.
"Can I learn to sell without becoming a salesperson?"
And he's an admin clerk.
I don't exactly know why he asked such a question, but since he's single, I can guess why.
Selling is a skill.
People can learn how to sell without, of course, turn into salespeople, and earn their paycheck with it.
That's a good thing too because I got fewer competitors :-)
What I always found is, when people asked such a question, what they want to learn is actually "persuasion." They want to know how to effectively persuade others to do their will.
And this is an open subject.
It can be for good or worse ...
... Only they know.
And persuasion, like selling, can be learned.
But to be frank, I got a negative image when the word persuasion is mentioned.
Perhaps, years of selling with the pharma industry cause me to feel that way.
There's nothing wrong with persuading someone but every time I think about such a situation, the image that comes up in my mind, is always a female rep "busying" herself convincing a doctor, in a white coat!
Female and doctor ...
... Never in my mind, I picture a male rep persuading the customer.
I don't know why.
Talk about stereotyping, huh?
So, how can I answer my friend?
Should I point him to learning how to persuade, instead?
What can I say to him?
I did answer him. But I believe, it's not the answer he was looking for. Most people look for a quick fix. They want the thing that brings immediate results.
I don't blame them ...
... I felt the same way too, especially when my Boss chases me for sales!
How I wish, at such instances, I can command sale as easy as snapping my fingers, and say "Avadacadavra!".
But that's a death spell, for your information. The Dark Lord in Harry Potter movies, used it a lot.
I digress, again ...
... Back to my friend.
I told him that, yes, selling is a valuable skill if he wants to influence people to take his side, but there's another more valuable skill than that.
It can easily "out value" selling 10 times more!
That got his attention.
"What is it? Can I learn it too?" he asked eagerly.
"Definitely. I, myself, is learning it too. We can learn it together then," I replied, calmly.
"Tell me ... What is it?" my friend getting impatient.
"OK. It's called MARKETING. If you can do this superbly well, you don't have to sell, my friend," I look straight into his face.
I got a puzzled look from him.
"What's the difference?"
And I stop here.
It's too much to jot down in one article. But the point I'm making is:
Marketing is done right, yields thousands fold better results than selling.
Operating Sales From Home
The idea is not new...
...It's not rampant yet, at least not at this part of town, but it's a norm elsewhere.
I remember talking to the General Manager the other day, and she said that, when she was a sales manager for her district before, everyone works from home.
That makes me feel kind of privilege because I was a test subject for the concept ...
... In the whole freaking country!
I'm not sure how they're going to gauge the success or failure of it, but since I'm still around even after the "reshuffle," I guess we're doing OK.
That's exactly what I asked when I sat for the job interview 2 years ago. I'm willing to travel but based in my hometown.
The company respond by putting me at my home and run the full operation from there.
Just one thing that prompts me to write this post:
Last Friday, while I was waiting for the flight home after the sales meeting, my friend makes an interesting remark about being based at home.
"Many people like to be based at home. I like it too. But I don't like it when my wife sees it. She thought I was so free, that she starts to delegate the household chores, bit by bit. She asked me to do one small thing first. And everything adds on from there," he smiled and end his remark.
Well, I also smiled at that.
Actually, I don't have to admit the truth to the statement.
Something to think about, if your company is considering to base you at home.
But it's right to married sales reps only.
Motivation Makes A Difference
2 frogs trapped in a large bottle of milk. Both struggling to get out.
One said to the other:
"Let's keep kicking, and maybe we'll jump out soon. We'll sink anyway if we stop kicking."
And on, and on, it keeps kicking with its tiny legs.
The other frog suddenly said:
"You know what, this is going nowhere. We're so not getting out of here, and I'm damn tired!"
And it decided to stop kicking.
Sure enough, it subsides seconds later. Bloop! Bloop! To the bottom of the bottle, it goes...
... But the surviving frog keeps on kicking.
Even though its small brain doesn't understand the full consequences of such action, it keeps at it, and by the Will of Allah, something else takes place.
While the frog busy kicking, the milk becomes more robust. Finally, it creates a surface where the frog gives it last kick and suddenly finds itself on the other side of the huge bottle.
It can see the "other" frog lay down dead at the bottom of the bottle. And it said:
"If only you keep kicking..."
Q: What makes the difference?
If we were the frogs, it's a matter of life and death...
Somehow, half-way through kicking aimlessly in the bottle, the dead frog finds it's futile to continue.
It misses the point.
Well, perhaps, it was thinking of taking different action...
...But it ends up taking none.
No action is not a "different" action!
The living frog was motivated.
It's, by no means, more skillful than the dead frog when it comes to kicking, but that never stops him from keeping at it. It, somehow, demonstrates the value of action and reaction, and it can continue to kick FREELY outside the bottle.
Can you relate to this story?
Are you trapped in a bottle, somewhere, and decided to stop kicking?
Always remember the dead frog.