My Greatest Lesson in Sales
by Gerald Jerry George, MBBS MBA
When I started my sales career, there was a lot of learning I had to go through. Some of it was through formal training. A lot of it was on the job, trial by fire, and getting kicked in the head a lot.
I remember being told very often that I was very intelligent and that I would excel in my job. This was great to hear but it wasn’t helpful. The praise did not give me the feedback I needed to truly excel in my job.
My first sales calls were generally with a team mate that had much more experience than me. This was a great way to learn but I rarely received any critical feedback. As I progressed in my job, I began to do sales calls on my own.
There was one particular sales call that I made with customer. The two of us went together to call on a mutual customer of ours. It was during this call I learned a lot.
The customer that joined me on this sales call had many years of sales experience. His opinion was one that I respected. I was determined to ask him to critique me when the sales call was over.
At the mutual customer’s office, I gave a great presentation. The team from the mutual customer’s side asked me a lot of questions. They saw me as an authority in the subject I presented. They were highly engaged with my presentation.
When I was done, I took leave and my customer friend left with me. We had come to this office in my car, so it was only natural for us to begin talking once we got back in the car.
I asked him what he thought of my presentation. I asked him to be straight up with me. His answer still rings strong with me even today…
He said the presentation was amazing- one of the best presentations he had ever attended. He also said the group was highly engaged and were pretty much eating out of my hands. Then he asked me the question that taught me a lot.
He asked me what I got out of the presentation. I asked him what he meant by that. He repeated the question- ‘What did YOU get out of the presentation?’. The question still baffled me. I didn’t understand. I thought my job was to give a presentation.
He then gave me my greatest lesson in sales. He said, ‘You are a salesman. Not an answer giver. A salesman gets a sale. If not a sale, you must get something before you leave.’ He explained to me that I did not get anything out of the sales call- except for the fact that the team enjoyed my presentation. He also explained that I should’ve have at least got a date to see them again- get something. He even said that getting a ‘No’ is better than getting nothing.
So, ever since that sales call, I’ve made it a point to get something from any sales call that I’ve made- even if it’s a no. This tremendous lesson has stayed with me since then. I’ve shared this lesson with my mentees and team members that I’ve trained. I hope you find this lesson a valuable one… and see why it was my greatest lesson in sales.
What is your greatest lesson in sales? Leave your thoughts in the comments. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org