While there are hundreds of books, presentations and blogs written to define and explain “sales”, Merriam-Webster dictionary simply defines a “sale” as an exchange of products or services for “money”. Money in and of itself has no value other than the piece of paper that it’s printed on, as its value is derived from the willingness of someone to trade that piece of paper for the market, wholesale, or resale value of the products or services being exchanged. But nevertheless, another word used for these exchanges of “money” is that of the word “sale”.
Every business everywhere exists based on its ability to generate new sales. While it’s been widely reported that most small businesses fail due to a lack of financing and bad management, another big reason for small business failure is that of low or decreasing sales volume. You can have a great product, a great company name, operate in a great location, and hire the best accountants, but if your sales process is inefficient, it will surely affect the longevity of your business.
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The Four Types of Salespeople
I’ve been involved in the financial technology (fintech) sector as a B2B sales rep since January 2007, approaching nearly 10 years of sales, marketing and business development experience. In this decade of activity, I have learned from the ground up how sales differs based on the market that the sales agent is selling into. As a result, my experience tells me that there are four types of salespeople:
#1. The Charismatic Sales Agents
This category includes individuals that aren’t typically referred to as sales agents, but who sell a product or service using some sort of unique aesthetic or preeminent characteristic, such as their good looks, great voice, great speaking ability, over the top theatrics, their household name, and more. Examples of charismatic sales agents include popular sports figures, actors, musicians, public speakers, and church ministers, among others.
#2. The Professional Sales Agents
This category includes the majority of outside B2B (business-to-business), B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2G (business-to-government) sales professionals who sell solutions that are usually more complex in terms of having longer product/service implementation cycles, higher risks at stake if the solution fails, requirement of some sort of on-going support aspect for the product/service, or the higher required dollar exchange for the product/service. These solutions are usually sold to resolve complex problems which involve specialized “niche” training and market research (primary market research or secondary market research) to adequately comprehend and solve problems in the market.
#3. The Inbound Sales Agents
This category includes your sales and customer service agents who handle inbound calls from current/prospective customers looking to learn more about products/services from a catalog (could be a physical or online catalog), or who might have a question regarding a current account.
#4. The Retail Sales Agents
This category includes your cashiers, waiters, waitresses, used car salesmen, fast food workers, bank tellers and more, who handle customers that come into a retail location off of the street and seek to buy items off of a menu, smorgasbord, or display.
Which Sales Agent Is Most Applicable to Your Business?
If your sales process involves selling items off of a menu, smorgasbord or display through a retail location, and/or doing the same through physical or online catalogs, the two types of sales agents that you are likely to employ would be the retail sales agent and the inbound sales agent, with either the same individuals performing both roles or hiring specifically for each function.
In addition to the retail sales and inbound sales agents, you might want to conduct some sort of marketing campaign using TV, radio, print, or video commercials, in which the usage of The Charismatic Sales Agent would come into play. However, for this article let’s focus in on best practices for optimizing the sales process of your retail sales and inbound sales agents.
The Retail Sales and Inbound Sales Agents
This is founded on what I refer to as “the family stratosphere approach”, based on years of working with and observing merchants that utilize these types of sales agents. Your sales process is based on making your customers feel as “ a part” of your organization as much as you possibly can, to where when they enter the location or if they call over the telephone, you give them the non-verbal expression that they are cared for and serviced individually by your organization, and not just another number or random customer. This is achieved in a number of ways:
- From the moment they enter the retail location or call into an internal agent, they ought to be greeted with a smile If they are a repeat customer, try to remember their name so you could greet them with a smile as well as the following, “Hello Mr. Williams, welcome back to (insert company here).”
- Try to collect information on the customer that pertains to the products and services that you sell, which should include but not be limited to their personal tastes, their personal desires, their previous orders, competitors that they might have worked with before, etc.
- Try to collect contact information on the customer, such as their cell phone or email address so you can contact them with news, announcements, and promotional offers. This is also used to try to get them to sign up for a loyalty program allowing them to build up “points” for future order discounts, as well as to send out surveys to them after the store or call-in experience to get their feedback on the service received.
- Every agent should be very knowledgeable about products, services, menu listings and displays, know how to ask the customer individual questions pertaining to their desires, and recommend or direct them to applicable products, services, menu items or lane displays.
From my personal experience shopping and also from working with merchants in these industries, the best companies that employ retail sales and inbound sales agents are those who use the “the family stratosphere approach.” It’s when I feel as though the agent I’m interacting with, knows about my situation, cares about my situation, and is can help me find the menu items, products, or services that I’m looking for. It makes me want to come back. And I receive their promotional offers it helps to get me back into the location faster than usual.
A Final Word
Which of the four types of salespeople are applicable to your organization? If you indeed mainly employ the retail sales and inbound sales agent, then using “the family stratosphere approach” is going to be your best bet in producing new, repeat and loyal customers who will also refer other customers to your organization. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn would say, “One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”