A key question that people in selling like to discuss from time to time is whether your prospects buy you or the product you sell? Which has the most influence, the salesperson or the product? Thinking about this key question may help you to increase your sales because it makes you more aware of certain things.
Take, for example, the effect of first impressions. Consider the following first impressions every salesperson makes on a new prospect:
* Most of the major senses are activated from the moment the prospect sees you.
* At 15 or 20 feet the sense of sight is working.
* As you approach the prospect, he or she hears your greeting.
* As you get still closer to the prospect, the sense of smell is working.
* When and if you shake hands, the sense of touch joins the other senses.
Long before a prospect considers your product or service, he or she is sizing you up as a salesperson. With all the above-mentioned senses called into play so quickly, you've got a lot going for you or against you,
The First Crucial Momen
Bring Mixed Feelings
Job applicants sooner or later discover that first impressions still affect employer decisions. Manner, appearance, friendliness, and other factors usually have some bearing on whether an applicant is considered for a position. While they don’t always admit it, employers in general are influenced by each first encounter. So in a similar way, your prospects experience mixed feelings in those first crucial moments when you meet.
The Salesperson’s Dynamic
Qualities Are Powerful
The salesperson’s ability to gain attention, arouse interest, inspire conviction, create desire, imagination, sincerity, and all the rest add up to form real persuasive power. Selling is perhaps the highest form of persuasion. Frank Bettger, who rose to become a true selling champion, learned this and was able to greatly multiply his income and happiness in selling.
Bettger also connected selling with the ability to tell a story. "Selling, in a large sense, is story-telling, for you’re telling the story about your product. Developing this art should be one of the most important studies of sales people. The prospect must be the central figure in the story. If he or she is, and they stay interested, he sells himself."
Elmer Wheeler Stressed the
Power of Words
Affectionately known as the dean of American salespersons, Elmer Wheeler often stressed the power of words in selling: "The best-looking merchandise won’t sell itself; and the prettiest dotted line won’t sign itself, without the intelligent persuasion of somebody’s words." Wheeler’s view lends real weight to the belief that the salesperson is more important than the product.
If a salesperson’s product could speak, it would make your work a lot easier, but until that great event takes place, you’ve got to sing the praises of what you sell. That means words–the right words of power and interest to move your prospect to take buying action.
Elmer Wheeler advised all salespeople "to avoid worn-out words with whiskers.
" He believed all the ammunition you need as a salesperson is right in your product: "Hidden in your sales product are sizzles, the best-selling arguments." But who voices these sizzles and all-important words? It’s the salesperson. Without his or her words, the product has little chance of registering effectively in the prospect’s mind.
The Product Side
of the Question
Now let’s look at the product side. Many people in selling have a real, tangible product or service they can show their prospects. The display of a tangible product gives the salesperson a definite advantage. A salesperson used to selling tangible products, however, is sometimes lost when he or she attempts to sell something that cannot be seen, handled, or tried out by the prospect.
A salesperson who switches from selling cars to life insurance, for example, has made an enormous product change. When one sells cars he or she can point out the many fine features and actually let the prospect sit behind the wheel of the car.
Yet selling an insurance policy is something else; it’s selling an idea–money for future delivery plus the benefit of protection. To keep the country moving, our economy needs both types of salespeople–tangible and intangible promoters. There is ample opportunity for both kinds of salespeople.
Let’s assume that you have a fine product and one you really believe is the best of its kind. Will it sell itself? Maybe partially. Some products do attract buyers. Many people are attracted each day to new items on display in shop windows. The product draws them inside the store. The beauty, form, style, or professionalism of many products arouses curiosity and initial sparks of interest.
However there must still be a salesman or saleswoman to follow through and close the sale, at least for a great many products and services. There’s little doubt that the sales professional is a much-needed connecting link. It’s much like the familiar definition of advertising–"salesmanship in print."
After the campaign theme has been chosen and the type of media selected, and most of the workers have left for the day, some copywriter must sit down and write the actual words to get the ad out.
Conclusions on the
Salesperson or the Product
Perhaps for most products, no matter how good, a salesperson is still needed to arouse confidence and to persuade prospects to make the actual buying decision.