Do you remember your first sales job? Your first sales training? What do you remember most about it? I remember the first sales lesson at the age of 16.
My first boss, Mr. Clarence McKee (deceased), taught me a sales lesson within 15 minutes of my first day on my first sales job, as a part-time shoe clerk in a family shoe store that I never forgot.
“Son, I want to teach you something about selling, and I don’t want you ever to forget it. Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, sir!” He gave me a choice: I could choose to learn and implement what he taught me or not work for him.
It was the shortest sales lesson ever taught. I knew within a few sentences what my purpose and expectations were, and what would happen if I did not meet them. It was horrifying for a high school junior
With his bald head reflecting the glare from a bare, dangling light bulb in the storeroom, his steely eyes peering over his glasses and his boney index finger pointed at me, Mr. McKee simply said, “Get their money.”
Now that might be a little strong for today’s sales training, but it is a lesson I never forgot. Mr.McKee did not say put pressure on the customer; he did not tell me to ‘win.’ He did not teach me how to close the sale. He just wanted me to understand my purpose.
“You are not here to show shoes. You are here to sell shoes, and if they do not see the the shoes they like, they will not buy them.”
Then he clearly and precisely told me how to do it.
“If you cannot find the inventory shoe the customer intends to buy in the size they need, turn them over to me. Do you understand?” If you cannot do this, I will have to send you home.”
Even as a 16-year-old, I understood. I was not expected to know the inventory on my first day. In addition, I better turn my prospects over to Mr. McKee or face a one-man firing squad.
Fortunately, it was a retail operation, so I did not have to worry about prospecting. I just focused on meeting the needs of the prospects who wanted to buy shoes that fit.
Or turn them over to Mr. McKee. Over the two years I spent my Saturdays and summers selling shoes, I learned the inventory and mostly learned that Mr. McKee was willing to train me and over time, his promise of my making more money selling shoes on commission than my grocery bagging friends down the street were making by the hour.
At first, I thought my job was to sell shoes because that is what Mr. McKee so clearly explained to me the first day. However, I came to learn that yes, if I am in commission sales, my income is going to be based on my ability to provide services that meet the shopper’s needs.
Later when I found myself training my onsite sales teams for major condominium communities and subdivisions, I had some fun remembering the ‘get their money’ challenge, because it is at the same time clear and hard.
However, I like what Marshall Field believed when he opened the famous Marshall Field’s department store years ago when he had the motto, “give the lady what she wants” and installed a babysitting service and a soda fountain in his stores.
So, maybe learning how to prospect and close a sale is not the first thing we need to learn in sales. The first thing we need to learn, especially in real estate, is that we are in business to help find homes our home shoppers are willing to purchase, which brings us back to knowing how to find and show ‘what fits’ the wants and needs of the homeshopper.
Next: Do you know how to tell if you are working with a ready, willing and able prospect?