I Wasn’t a Salesman

Early in 2008, the owner and I had agreed upon the deal and the transition began.

Pinpros would become mine if the goal was hit by year end.  I transitioned from COO to CFO and in addition, took on full responsibility of Pinpros, including day to day sales.

It was my first hands on experience with sales.  Sure, I’d managed sales people, set sales goals, and understood the sales process.  But this was different.

Here I was accepting money and promising delivery on something I had little control over.  I wasn’t a salesman.  I was an accountant, an operations guy, an introvert.  Up to this point every promise I made I had relative control over.

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It was stressful

Each night I left the office feeling stressed and worried.  What if the product was bad?  What if it missed the customers event date?  What if they didn’t like it?  Questions swirling around my head, knowing that I was the one that had to give answers to customers.  My name was on the line.

I wasn’t prepared for the stress of sales. 

It only took a few weeks to realize, I had to change or life would be miserable.

So, after a heart to heart, I realized pins are not life and death – and I needed to trust the system.

Trust the system

I moved forward and processed orders and trusted the system.  Only if there was a problem did I rethink about a particular sale.  I learned quickly; every problem can be resolved.  You just have to think creatively.

Solutions often included, printing a certificate to be presented until the pins arrived.  Make and ship our rush photodome pins to tie them over until the pins arrived.  Ship to a conference location so the pins would be there when they arrived, in turn giving us a day or two more for production.

In most cases the problems were solved, the customers appreciated the effort and life went on. 

Experience proved to me that this mindset was true and the stress dwindled.

Avoid the fear

I was becoming a salesman.  But more importantly I was learning about customers behavior and how to communicate with them.

The more customers I dealt with, the more questions I got.

Is that your best price?
Can you make this complicated design?
Can I get this rushed?

Can I buy 25 pins?

These questions posed another stressful aspect of sales.  Everyone wanted 3 things:   quality, cheap and fast.  As a salesperson you feel pressure to deliver all 3 requests or risk losing the sale. 

It was the fear of losing the sale that caused doubt and concession, and I was doubting, discounting and rushing.  You can get away with a little of this, but overtime, business suffers and you don’t build customer loyalty, you build a customer that expects concession on everything and will leave you for the next lowest price.

Luckily business grew, my confidence increased and I began to believe my offering was good.

Willing to walk away

As my confidence grew, my communication changed. 

Rather than speak with doubt in my voice, I spoke with confidence, didn’t waffle, and was willing to walk away from any sale.  I learned to guide the conversation, educate the customer, and help the customer to the best decision. 

The pressure of the sale shifted from me to the customer, and If they didn’t buy, that was ok. 

Selling became easier and business grew even more and the loyal customer base increased.

I still may not be a salesman, because I still don’t like to cold call or reach out to people, but I learned that we are all salespeople in our own way.   We sell ourselves, our ideas, or our products and it can be stressful.

However, if we remember to trust the process, have confidence in our offering, and always be willing to walk away our ability to sale increases dramatically.

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About ME

I was convinced for years I wasn't a writer - so I didn't. Now I'm older, and I have a strong desire to write - so I do.  The blog Craig A Fry is my way of sharing with the world (but mostly just documenting my thoughts) things I've learned from Business, Personal Life and Spiritual Insights.

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