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Chris LoCurto

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June 20, 2012

Sales Lessons From A Caribbean Beach

No matter who you are or what you do, you are in sales. We ALL sell every day. If you’re a leader, you’re in sales by trying to convince your team to follow you. If you’re a team member, you’re trying to convince your leadership of your passion, skills and abilities.

If you’re a pastor, you’re trying to convince your congregation on your belief of what the Bible says. If you’re a mom, you’re trying to convince your kids that if they don’t clean up their room, you’ll count to three … and then they begin begging until you let them off the hook and they can go back to watching cartoons! Sorry, I got caught up in the lack of parenting I see nowadays.

No matter your “occupation,” you should have a sticker on your shirt that says, “I’m in sales. Ask me about it!” Selling is nothing more than trying to convince someone. That’s it. Now what you convince them of can be infinite—your product, your opinion, etc.

So why am I pointing all of this out? Because sometimes, OK quite often, I feel like people don’t understand the need for bettering their sales abilities.

Let me give you an example. I was recently on a tiny beach on the back side of Sint Maarten. There were only a dozen or so people there, and we were all on lounge chairs baking in the sun.

Side note: It’s really difficult for me to just sit there sun bathing. Anyway, within one minute of me putting my feet in the sand, a man walked up to me and tried to sell me a CD. Of what? I’m not sure. But I was pretty confident I didn’t want it, especially since I left my last-century CD Walkman in my other shorts.

Ten feet later, I was asked, “You want to buy a beer or some food?” To which I responded with a no thank you. About two minutes after I set my stuff down and laid back on the lounge chair, a lady walked up to me and asked, “Would you like to buy some gourds?” (I’m saying gourds because that’s what they were. Gourds on a string. But I have no clue what the word was that she used.) “I’m good,” I said.

This continued to happen for a few minutes with the last few “salespeople” on the beach. Surprisingly, I have no CD. I have no gourd on a string. And I have no braids in my hair, which would make for some very small braids, by the way. Why I was not sold on any of these wonderful products? Because walking up to me and saying, “Do you want to buy” just doesn’t get me giddy.

There were no steps of a proper sales process followed whatsoever. I won’t go into all of those steps because you can read them in Serve Don’t Sell. If your sales process doesn’t include persuading me, then you’re just wasting everyone’s time. The same goes for you as a parent, a teacher, a preacher, etc. If I feel like all you want is my response for your benefit, I’m out. But if you make me believe that I need your product, your opinion or your gourds on a string, then I’m in all of the way.

Question: What ways have you found best to “sell” people?

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  • coldsolderjoint

    @ChrisLoCurto never thought of it like that! so true! but overall they must be ok? why continue 2 do the same thing over & over?

    • ChrisLoCurto

      @coldsolderjoint I believe they don’t know any other way. I guess I should have held a sales seminar on the beach. :-D

      • coldsolderjoint

        @ChrisLoCurto They r content with mediocrity? In Cabo, they send around cute children 2 sell crap u don’t want starting at $1.

  • faughn4

    As a preacher, I think what you are saying has great application. It seems that two types of congregations are growing consistently: (1) those that don’t ask anything of members and just make people feel good, and (2) those that truly dig deeply into the Bible and persuade people strongly. As you might expect, the latter have “staying power,” because people are truly convinced within themselves and will not need another “pick-me-up” all the time. Instead, they will become one who convinces (persuades) others and the church will grow.

  • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

    As someone clinging to the extreme edge of the introvert chart, I find it very important that I have to understand myself and my own thoughts before I even have a chance trying to share them with others. Same thing with sales. If I try to sell someone on taking steps to make their work better, without believing the value of making work better myself, then I will run into awkward experiences with others and make THEM feel uncomfortable too. But when I understand what I’m offering, what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, I get excited and passionate about it (which coincidently hides the introvert) and pass off that excitement to others, making them more inclined to “buy” in too. I mean, if what I’m selling can transform me out of my introverted shell…. imagine the wonders it can do for your business. :)  

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Jon Henry Great point Jon! I’ve been in that situation, where I don’t believe in what I’m selling…makes it real hard to sell it!!

    • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

       @Jon Henry Great points, Jon. That passion also comes across as confidence in the “pitch.” Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com RicardoEquips

    This is something I need to work more on. I want to get more personal and relational with it rather than sounding like the average “sales pitch” (or sales page you find all over the web). I’ve begun trying out a combination of a sales page, podcasts, and video in my little mix to see how that works. I’ll tell you how it went. lol!

  • Kevin Edwards

    Being the FPU Coordinator at my church, I’m always “selling” the class to others.  It is quite funny because people are always coming up to me with money questions because I’m the “financial guru”.  But whether people are seeking me out or it just comes up in conversation, I can only sell to them what I’m truly already sold on myself.  I tell them where we were financially and where we are now and can attibute much of it to what we have learned via TMMO and FPU.  I guess I said all of that to say, that it seems that I sell by communicating on an emotional level as I explain my experience with the product, service, company, etc. and how my life has been impacted for the good by it.

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @Kevin Edwards You raise a vital point: if you haven’t gone there, you can’t ethically sell it. If you don’t use it, if you don’t love it, if you wouldn’t sell it to your Mom (or someone else whom you love) you shouldn’t be caught trying to sell it to someone else. 
       
      You’ve used what you sell, and you love it because you’ve seen how it has worked for you. That’s part of what will make you a great salesperson for this product. 

      • Kevin Edwards

         @Aaron Nelson
         However, where I’m employed, the items I sell are not something that I use because they are industrial.  In fact, there is nothing special about the actual products we manufacter.  People sell them all over the world.  The selling point for us is purely service.  I can sell the item for double or triple the retail price, but companies will buy it because they need it fast, we can make it fast, and their experience in dealing with us is a good one.  Sometimes part of the battle is to REALLY know what you are selling.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @Kevin Edwards @Aaron Nelson Great point Kevin!alot of times it IS the service that will be the selling point!

        • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

           @Kevin Edwards Trust and reliability!

    • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

       @Kevin Edwards The pitch comes from the personal testimony. Great point!

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

    I think this is just semantics, but people aren’t sold, they buy. It’s only when I have made a decision to purchase something that I will do so, no amount of talking, prodding, begging, will get me there if I don’t want to.
    The best way to sell people is to show them what’s in it for them. I had a great example of this the other day…I purchased something and after I had the lady went on and on about how much I was helping whatever cause or person or whatever and in my mind I was thinking “Lady, I just wanted this item, I’m glad it’s helping you somehow, but that is really of secondary importance to me.”
    Maybe that makes me a selfish, horrible person, but it’s instructive. People purchase based on their needs wants or desires. And if you want them to purchase, you had better connect with what is they want.

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @Skropp Preach on brudda! I’ve heard/read this often: People don’t care about you, they care about them and their needs, and how you can help them fix their problem. If you have nothing to do with their problem, you are an unwanted distraction. 

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

        @Aaron Nelson Absolutely! And after that exchange I thought to myself, “I LOVE capitalism! I can purchase something I want, and someone or some cause can be helped in the process and I still get a great deal!”

    • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

       @Skropp I tell clients in the job search all the time that if they are looking to sell a microwave to someone who needs a fridge, the sale (their employment) is not going to happen!

  • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

    Ways I’ve found to sell to people? 
     
    I totally and completely prefer to get to know the person vs just try to sell them something. I think I sell through relationship. I feel most comfortable when I know them and what they are trying to accomplish.
     
    When I know them, I can tell if what I have to offer is a match for their needs. I HATE cold call/ cold sale situations and avoid them like the plague. Not for me. 

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

       @Aaron Nelson  I hear you Aaron!!  I hate being “sold” something that I don’t need or want, so I will never do it to someone else.  Selling through relationship is truly serving your customer.

    • http://lcdublin-myprivateuniverse.blogspot.com/ CarolDublin

       @Aaron Nelson @lilykreitinger Definitely building relationships helps you learn what is a good match. When I managed a bookstore, you had to know the customer’s interests before you could recommend a book or author.
       
      I work at a nonprofit now, and part of my job is training volunteers – which is “selling” the information I’m sharing. It’s important to have a relationship with them to know how best to present the information to get their buy-in, and how to get them excited enough to follow through. If I don’t, I’m wasting my time.
       
      Great conversations!

      • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

         @CarolDublin  @lilykreitinger Love this Carol – even non profit is selling. 

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Aaron Nelson Yep. I’m with ya too Aaron. Build the relationship and make sure what you’re doing honestly is beneficial o them!

  • cabinart

    It would be a relief to sell someone else’s product. Selling my own art is like being naked in public (no experience there, just sayin’)
     
    The best way I know to sell is to make friends with people. The more they hang out, learn about me, share about themselves, and get familiar with my work, the more likely they are to buy something. (or if they hang around long enough, I’ll probably give something to them!) For years I’ve thought that all my customers are friends and family because they feel sorry for me.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

       @cabinart  I think all your customers are smart and appreciate the awesome beauty of your artwork…. just sayin’ !

  • Domerskee

    Great post.  The vast majority of my working life has been in jobs that are not considered by normal standards as sales positions. It is in fact one of the reasons why initially when I heard about EntreLeadership coming out I thought, “that sounds cool, but I don’t own my own business or sell stuff for a living”. Being a leader (which we all are at some level) is truly about sales. I find it interesting that many of us have talked about “buy in” from our teams and customers and never caught that buy has to do with sales. Showing up every day with consistent actions and message gives us the credibility to sell people on whatever our product/ mission is.
    On a side note, while I have done my best to irradicate their existence, there are a few photos of a time in my life when those braids would have worked in my hair.  That beach chair sounds like a wonderful place. Although I can completely get the inability to sit still my guess is once you were there for a while it grew on you.

    • CGreene801

       @Domerskee I always liked the quote ‘If you’re not willing to get your team members to buy in (through answering their questions and taking their feedback), why would you expect them to sell out (your brand/idea/platform/vision)?’  It’s an interesting thought.So many people today are caught up in not rocking the boat and just doing enough to get by, and the leadership of the organization wonders why the team isn’t head over heels in love with their work.  Could it be because the leadership team hasn’t sold their own team on why what they are doing matters?

      • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

         @CGreene801  @Domerskee Ohhh if I could, I’d like this comment a million times. To get something, you have to give it.  I just read an article about a recent study done by Harvard – Employee engagement happens best when employees feel they are making progress in meaningful work. That is not really surprising. (Especially if you’ve been hanging out here any length of time.) 
         
        The shocking truth the study discovered: Management – across the board – tend to ignore the powere of creating meaningful work. And then those same leaders wonder why their talent bleeds off to other companies, and why people just show up to do the work, leaving their heart and soul behind. 
         
         

        • Domerskee

           @Aaron Nelson  Interesting. You wouldn’t happen to have a link to that study would you? I think thats the kind of thing that supervisors and shift leaders here could benefit from. As well as myself :)

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @Domerskee You bet. Let me find it for you. I’ve been reading through this article with a few of my students who are managers. Favorite moment: when their eyes get a bit bigger as they fully understand the relationship between engagement, meaningful work, their responsibility in creating that meaningful work and the huge productivity and happiness that happens as a result. Link on the way. 

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @Domerskee The link you requested: 5 Timeless Tips for Boosting Employee Engagement http://www.industryweek.com/articles/5_timeless_management_tips_for_boosting_employee_engagement_27562.aspx

        • Domerskee

           @Aaron Nelson awesome, THANKS

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @Domerskee Hope you enjoy my friend!

      • Domerskee

         @CGreene801 great quote. How much frustrated time do we spend becuse we dont like what is happening around us but rocking the boat loos like it would be a worse process.

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @Domerskee I really liked your point about ‘creating buy in.’ It’s funny and scary at the same time: we don’t see how that connects to sales. We don’t see how EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US are in sales at one point of our day or the other.  

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

         @Aaron Nelson  @Domerskee  This has been such a big eye opener! We are all in sales, so we’d better learn how to be good at it!

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @lilykreitinger  @Domerskee Wurd!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

    I’ll share the urban version of your beach “salespeople” experience.
     
    If you are ever stuck in traffic in Mexico City (with 18 million commuters at 7 AM), you can buy the following items in the comfort of your car: morning edition of the newspaper,  chewing gum, kleenex, cigarettes, capuccino, sunglasses, shades for your car, bottled water, peanuts,  a magnifying glass-keychain combo, magazines, stuffed animals for your kids, fresh flowers… you name it!  
     
    There is definitely a need for at least one of those items when you’re moving at 0 miles per hour waiting for gridlock to dissolve.  Most of the time, the vendors are plain annoying.  Oh, you can even get your windshield wiped for a tip… and many times they just climb on your hood and ‘clean it’ whether you want it or not.  
     
    These people sell whatever on the street just out of desperation of being unemployed or underemployed. For many, it pays more than a factory job (minimum wage there is $4.00 USD A DAY).  However, some of them are crazy good at what they do:
     
    – They know their “regulars” and greet them with a smile. They know that the guy in the red Honda who drives by at 7:06 will always buy the paper and they have it ready for him.
    – They switch out their product according to the crowd’s needs:  hot cappuccino on winter mornings,  ice-cold bottled water on a hot summer afternoon
    – They show up on time, every day, rain or shine (because they sell plastic rain ponchos and umbrellas)
    – They hardly ever complain that you’re riding in the comfort of your car while they had to ride three different buses for two hours from where they live to get to the main drag
    – They’re thankful that each day they have something to sell and that they will have money to feed their kids their next meal
     
    Sorry for the long comment (I’m trying to beat Scott’s record)

    • http://eselfemploymentideas.net/ selfemployedbob

       @lilykreitinger Wow, what a story!  Makes me appreciate what I’ve got.  Sounds like it does you too!
       
      Also, is it bad, that I have most of those same items in my car, but I don’t have any traffic problems?

      • cabinart

         @selfemployedbob I only commute one day a week and there is no traffic. When I start thinking “wah, wah, I wish I could be home in my studio”, I’ll think of Lily’s story.
         
        In other words, “No whining on the yacht!”

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

           @cabinart  @selfemployedbob  Ohhh I think we found another blog phrase.  LOVE IT! “No whining on the yacht!”   I’m going to have to start putting a glossary together… Hmmmm wheels turning LOL!

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @lilykreitinger @cabinart @selfemployedbob Yup, definitely another phrase for the ol’ glossary!!

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

         @selfemployedbob  It just means you’re self sufficient…

        • http://eselfemploymentideas.net/ selfemployedbob

           @lilykreitinger The CLo community dictionary; I love it!  Can we be that nerdy?  Umm, yep!  ;)
           
          Maybe Chris can start asking “what it means to” in his interviews.  That’ll stump’em!

        • http://www.BaptistEducation.org/ JoshuaWRivers

          @selfemployedbob @lilykreitinger How about CLoTribe.com. Looked it up and it’s available!

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @selfemployedbob  @lilykreitinger That’s a great recruitment idea man! LOL Hilarious. Could you imagine being asked those kinds of questions in an interview? Great idea! 

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @lilykreitinger Man you made me laugh Lily. My favorite street sales person is a guy who switches between washing your windshield or brushing the dirt off the body of your car. 
       
      This guy rocks. He’s our favorite. Best of all, now that I’m gaining my education as a salesperson from this community, I can totally see that he follows the steps to a sale. 1. Qualify your lead. This guy ALWAYS asks. He looks you in the eye, smiles, and then makes his offer. He never pushes you. If you say no, he smiles and says – Have a great day! 2. Rapport – every day we pass his corner on the way to work, he always waves to us and smiles. This happens if he cleans our windows or not. He does this to every person he knows. 3. Educate – hmm, well this one I’m not sure he needs to do. It’s obvious: my windshield is dirty. I can see that his work will help me. 4. Close me. He smiles, gets close enough to the car to ask: and checks if he can get to work for me.
       
      We love this guy. We also, when we have it, always give him more than what you’d normally give. 
       
       

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

         @Aaron Nelson  You know exactly what I’m talking about. Do people still go around in roller blades with their big coffee tanks on their back?  I use to see those guys in Periferico by the Hipodromo exit.   The crazy thing is that you think anyone would hate to be in that situation and your car cleaning guy is actually happy to be there!

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @lilykreitinger indeed they are still around with coffee tanks on their back. Impressive innovation if you ask me! And I totally agree: our car cleaner guys has amazing attitude, which is one of the reasons why we love him. :)

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @lilykreitinger Those are great examples of selling to a need!

  • tbric1

    I’ve never had to sell anything.  Just help the person/people thru the process.
    Now if your an eskimo and I have ice to sell, I might have to “sell” you on your need for ice!

  • http://www.BaptistEducation.org/ JoshuaWRivers

    ‘What ways have you found best to “sell” people?’ Well, I tried to sell my kids on eBay and Craigslist, but nobody took me up on it! Wait…I think I read that wrong.
     
    Seriously, though, I’ve never really thought of myself as a good salesman. But I have convinced several employers to hire/promote me. For some reason, I have convinced my wife that she’s happy to be married to me.
     
    I think a lot of it has to do with building relationships, consistency, honesty, reliability, etc. I guess it also involves enough boldness to step out and speak out when something needs to be said.

    • rlawrencejr

       @JoshuaWRivers I agree with you about the need to build relationships. While qualification, education, and closing are equally important, and each step in the entire sales process is very interdependent on every other step, building a level of trust by building relationships through rapport is big!

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @JoshuaWRivers LOL on your e-bay joke!  I too have never thought of myself as a good salesperson. In fact, usually the opposite. I consider myself a bad salesperson, but like you, I’ve made some important personal and career sales. 
       
      I think our mistake is that we don’t believe that we are sales people, and we’re not actively seeking ways to improve our skills in this area. We still see sales as being ‘out there’ – not ‘in here, a VITAL part of me.’ 
       
      Thinking about that….
       
       
       

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

        @Aaron Nelson @JoshuaWRivers I think we think of sales as that guy with the tweed jacket and tennis shoes and a toothpick behind his ear leaning against that beater 91 Honda on the corner lot…when in reality, as has been stated many times true sales is about building rapport and honestly trying to serve and benefit the other person!! It’s a paradigm….

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @Skropp  @Aaron  @JoshuaWRivers Indeed. A big paradigm shift.

  • http://www.ginasmom.com/ ginasmom

    I’ll get back to the question, but if you gave me 11.5 minutes of your time, I’m convinced, I could sell you the idea of getting a few braids into your hair:):).

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @ginasmom LOL – I think I’d start with some hair food first. ;)

      • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

         @Aaron Nelson  @ginasmom Chris might have mistaken “hair braids” and “new hair.” Things grow like crazy in Caribbean. 

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

           @Jon Henry  @Aaron Nelson  @ginasmom  Do you think they explained that you actually need to have hair to get braids?  Maybe they were selling extensions :D

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @lilykreitinger @Jon Henry @Aaron Nelson @ginasmom Yeah, selling hair braids to. Chris (or me for that matter) would be like selling ice to an Eskimo (to use a previous example)…there’s really not a need, even IF Chris thought itd look cool, hahaha

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @Skropp  @lilykreitinger  @Jon  @Aaron  @ginasmom That’s why you need to qualify. You don’t need to sell hair braids. You need to sell some amazing hair food, guaranteed to grow a mop of hair in 2 months – or your money back. ;)

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @Aaron Nelson  @Skropp  @lilykreitinger  @Jon  @Aaron  @ginasmom no comment…except….that was a comment.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @ChrisLoCurto @Aaron Nelson @lilykreitinger @Jon @Aaron @ginasmom Hey man, I’m on your side! I don’t have hair either haha. My daughter told me that I look like her dentist because e doesn’t have any hair! Haha

        • http://eselfemploymentideas.net/ selfemployedbob

           @Skropp  @ChrisLoCurto  @Aaron  @lilykreitinger  @Jon  @Aaron  @ginasmom Hey Lily, aren’t you really good at Photoshop?  I’m picturing a mash-up that would get Dave Ramsey himself laughing.  Sorry Chris!