They go from office to office holding briefcases filled with papers. They are always prepared. Rejection is a common thing for them but they are never deterred. Regardless of the long hours, they may have to drive in traffic or walk in the sun, they always keep a smile and a positive demeanor. They know that at the end of the day all that matters is closing the deal. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with salespeople. Being the inquisitive journalist that I am, I decided to spend a day with Kwame, a seasoned salesman, to learn a few tricks of the trade and to truly understand what it was like to be a salesperson.
I sat with Kwame as he planned for his sales. Planning, he explained to me, is a crucial part of sales. Salespeople plan everything from the calls for the day to strategies on how to achieve the target they have set for themselves, and of course, researching potential customers. When you plan, you are able to get information on the client to know what their needs are, and you are ultimately more prepared and in a better position to handle the situation.
For about two hours, I watched Kwame search for news on the company and scrutinize the LinkedIn profiles of some of the company’s staff. He looked at everything, including their schools and their social activities. Kwame told me of a time when he managed to book a meeting with someone simply because he was Catholic. “Similarities like this serve as ice breakers and make interaction easier,” he explained.
One word I heard Kwame use a lot was prospecting. I asked for explanations and he told me that prospecting is simply the search for potential customers or buyers. I sat by him as he made calls to some of his larger and more recognized clients to ask for referrals, which would go a long way in establishing his credibility.
“What is one thing that you must be sure to do when dealing with a client?” I asked. He smiled and said respect; the importance of treating a potential client with respect cannot be overemphasized.”
Being the shy, reserved and proud person I was, rejection was something that deterred me from venturing into sales. Kwame was amused and assured me that “rejection is a normal part of sales, but it is also important not to take it personal; the “no” may not be directed at you, but the product. In the event of a no, it is imperative to continue to maintain a friendly relationship with the client because there would always be a next time. Rejection does not mean the person will never be a client, one must keep the conversation going.”
I sat in the car with Kwame as we headed to the office of a potential client. When we got there, we were led to the marketing manager’s office and were told he would be with us shortly. Immediately we sat down, I saw that Kwame was smiling. He said “we share the same secondary school, he is also an old Achimotan”. When the manager entered the room, Kwame greeted the gentleman and added, “I see you are also a product of the Grey City, pleased to see that you are living water to thirsty land.” The gentleman laughed and gave Kwame a big hug. Kwame moved on to talk about the reason for our visit. Kwame handled the situation with such grace and confidence. There were several concerns, but Kwame had an answer for everything. When the meeting drew to a close, the manager said the company was on a tight budget so he would think about it.
I was awestruck; after all the talking and preparation Kwame had done, how could he possibly not have gotten the business? Kwame smiled, told the man he understood and would be in touch.
“So what have you learned today?” Kwame asked as we were about to start our second appointment. Before I could respond, the Manager walked in wearing a Holy Child wristband. I walked to her, stretched out my hand with a big smile, “My fellow Hopsan, Facta Non Verba!” The lady smiled at me, “let us go into my office.” I gave Kwame a wink. As he picked up his bag to follow me, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him give me thumbs up.