A Sales Seminar on the Street

We had another visit from our friend Helen, who sells High Lawn Farms milk. I’ve become quite a fan of this gentle and friendly woman, and I have passed along many leads to her, other businesses whom I think might want to sell her milk. I love helping her because I really like her, and her milk.

“I’m not much of a salesperson,” she told me as we stood in the sun outside the the cafe. I was pointing out Sienna, a high-end restaurant that I thought would be a good prospect. “I don’t know how to do this, I’m still learning,” she said, adding that sometimes she gets frustrated and is afraid of being a pest.

I gave her some sales wisdom I learned long ago: It’s NEVER A NO til you actually hear the prospect say they’re not interested. “They just haven’t said yes yet–but that doesn’t mean no,” I told her. “Be persistent–most salespeople give up after one or maybe two calls. Make four calls, send a nice email, keep asking people for their business or a chance to talk to them. Be a friendly emissary, just passing through, ask if you can give them a taste,” I continued. People love it when you don’t give up on them!

Salespeople who are persistently upbeat, believe in their products, and never give up are the most successful. I got teary thinking of how I used to sell, how hard it was, and ultimately, how satisfying when persistence pays off. “If you just keep on every few weeks, a friendly call, or an email, over time they will respect you and want to buy from you.”

I suggested she ask the prospect she’s visiting to call a peer–like if she’s in one prep school, ask them to phone their counterpart at the other school. “People love working with people who their peers are working with,” I said. Referrals from customers are the warmest ways to gain new business.”