Be shy and still sell well . . !


IT was at my cousin’s office in the business district of Mumbai decades ago that I met him. He was, according to my cousin, a star salesman, “Hear him Bob,” said my cousin, “He has the gift of the gab!” Which meant he could talk fast and easily because words came out of his mouth faster than a race car. And like a race car, he looked good, and his manner, charming.

But my cousin fired him in a month. “I don’t know what was wrong,” he said, “He had the gift of the gab, yet he failed.” I worked as a salesman during that time, for my dad, and as I studied sales, I could have told my cousin that being a great talker didn’t make you a great salesman, but being an intent listener did. What happens with people who talk too much is they listen too little. And it’s not just words you need to listen to, it’s body language, shifting of eyes. They’re all saying something all the time. A shift from one leg to another says the listener is getting restless. That you need to stop. You need to ask questions. I once had a sales manager working for me who said he could confuse the customer into signing on the dotted line. ‘Confuse?’ I wondered what he meant, till I realized he got the sale, but after that was a very troublesome customer, because that customer had not understood anything about the product, while my salesman was busy ‘confusing’ him.

So, if you hear people telling you, you are too shy, or timid, why, you’re just the right person who has the ability to convince. Customers look for honesty, not glib talkers who block them from their own thoughts. The man with the gift of the gab says, “I can talk so well, but I just cannot sell!”

You can, just try, and here’s something a little lighter: A salesman saw his customer, Mr Jones staring out the window looking a little disturbed, “I promised my wife a Pomeranian and the cheapest one I can get is $200. It’s too much.” Said the customer. “I can sell you one for $125.” Said the salesman “Great! When can you deliver it?” said the customer, wondering how the salesman for washing machines also sold dogs. “By afternoon.” Once outside he rushed to a public telephone and rang his sales manager. “Listen. I’ve just sold old Jonesy a Pomeranian for $125. What the hell is a Pomeranian? Is it a model we have?”

That’s what happens to salesmen who confuse and don’t listen, they sell nothing. Remember you don’t need to be a salesman to sell, you are selling something all the time. Listen carefully, understand the customers’ needs, then sell. Do it right and you can continue being shy..!


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