Did you know that at one point in my life I worked as a sales representative for a greeting card company?
That’s right, the woman who would prefer to be at home grooving to her own beat had a job dragging samples and order forms around her three-state territory convincing store owners to buy the products that she represented.
In spite of the job being a lousy fit for my personality and energy level, I was moderately successful at sales. Early on in my career as a sales rep I figured out a few basic principles that helped me focus on what mattered– that is, getting things done.
Here is what I learned:
- Getting buyers to feel comfortable with their decisions requires the insight of a family therapist, the explanatory powers of a college professor & the enthusiasm of a family dog.
- No one gets everything that they want. That is why dealmaking requires negotiation– which requires stepping outside your comfort zone and adapting to each unique situation.
- Details make it happen. Chit-chat and generalities, while pleasant, are pointless when it comes time to sign the contract.
- Every person you meet could be your next lead, so be polite and listen actively, at least for a little while, to everyone.
- Say “thank you” to the buyer no matter what happens.
Why, oh why, am I thinking about this topic today?
Well, it is because as I watch Washington NOT find a way to make reasonable deals about managing national finances, I am taken back to my days when my paycheck was tied to my ability to get things done. Sell more cards, make more money.
And while I was not always enthusiastic about all the deals that I made when I worked in sales, I did make deals. Lots of them. Because I knew that was what was expected of me. It was part of the job.
So as a way to help our poor [overpaid] Senators and Representatives learn how to focus on what matters and start making sensible deals that are not tied to unrealistic party lines, I have shared my five principles of salesmanship.
Perhaps if all of these Washington jackweasels would apply my principles to their discussions about the impending sequestration they would be moderately successful at their jobs. And get some things done that benefit all of us… not just their oversized egos.