Becoming a Wizard of Sales


By Odette Pollar,

Would you rather get a root canal than make a sales call?  You are not alone.  Most of us have to sell as part of daily business functioning even though you may not consider yourself a sales person.  Selling can be very intimidating for many people but a critical skill needed for the success of your business.   When you need to motivate, inspire or simply persuade others to see it your way, to follow the policy or support a position, you are in essence selling.

To simplify the ideas and make sales more fun, I interviewed sales and marketing wizard, Jeff Slutsky, President of Street Fighter Marketing in Columbus, Ohio.  Jeff has a very unique way of teaching sales.  He wrote and produced a full-length musical parody show called The Wizard of Sales, based on the classic film, The Wizard of Oz.  In Jeff's version, each of the main characters has a different selling challenge.   The Wizard of Sales gives them the advice they need to be successful.

The Scarecrow has no qualified leads.  The Wizard of Sales tells the Scarecrow that every sales person can generate leads.  That is the easy part.  But they have something he doesn't  – a database.  The Wizard suggests that he go through his list of past customers and start putting them in a database.  Gather information about what his clients like and want.  Instead of waiting for a customer to call him with a request, he should be proactive and call the customer whenever he gets in merchandise that fits a specific customer profile.  A reminder phone call to a repeat customer can be the least costly but most effective way to generate good solid leads. 

In just about any type of business, you can expect to get a certain amount of repeats and referrals, if you are doing your job right.   For example, Jeff was consulting with The National Marine Manufacturers Association.  Their average member had about 1000 customers in their files.   The NMMA's research indicated that eight percent of boat owners were in the market for a new boat within the year.  Each dealer had at least 80 potential sales from their own customer list, provided they were willing to actively contact them to make sure they didn't shop elsewhere.  A sales wizard wouldn't wait for the sale to walk in or call.

The Tin Man can't handle objections.  The Wizard tells him that any decent sales person can handle objections but the really successful know something that he doesn't  - how to "isolate" the objection.  Before you respond isolate the objection by saying,  "Other than your objection, is there any other reason why we couldn't get the 'go ahead' today?"  When they respond with a "no" then you know that if you handle this concern properly, they won’t come back with another and another and another.  This avoids the dreaded case of the "yes, buts."    

The Lion suffers from call reluctance.   Fear of making sales calls is normal the Wizard tells the Lion.  Much of it is related to the fear of being rejected.  But successful sales people have something that he doesn't – an eye on the prize.  The thing to keep in mind is that every time you make a call, regardless of the outcome, you are that much closer to a 'yes'.  It is all in the numbers.  For example, if the Lion needs to make an average of 25 calls to get a sale then he needs 24 "no's" to get that one "yes."  So, when you get a "no," thank that person because you're just one step closer to a "yes."

You can also look at it another way.  If the Lion's average sale generates $500 and each sale requires 25 calls, each sales call is worth $20.  

Dorothy can't close the sale.  No matter how good you are at the other aspects of selling, you have to be able to close the sale to be deemed a success in the field.  The Wizard tells Dorothy that she had the ability to close sales all along.   But successful sales people have something that she doesn't have  - persistence.   You have to be willing to ask for the order repeatedly.  The Wizard also reminds Dorothy that to get a "yes", you must ask the customer a question.  You could say, "do you want to give it a try?"  Or, "can I go ahead and write this one up for you?"  Each of these questions gets the customer to give you a commitment to the sale.   When you get a "no" you must go back and uncover the reasons why so you can deal with it.  It often takes seven or more attempts before you will get a "yes."

Sales, like persuasion requires skill, practice and persistence.  Even non-sales people need to be comfortable asking for what they want.  Do not let the idea of “sales” prevent you from doing the best possible job you can.

Odette Pollar is a nationally known speaker, author, and consultant. President of the management consulting firm, Smart Ways to Work based in Oakland, CA, her most recent book is Surviving Information Overload. Email to share your comments, questions and suggestions: Visit us at: call: 1-800-599-8463.

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