By Srinivas Chari
CMO & Co-Founder, Xerago
As I desperately looked around the aisle to find my shirt size, I got confused with the M/L/ XL markings. The missing size conversion chart didn’t make my search any easier. So I drifted off, wondering how dramatic my life was at that particular moment:
- I had showed up in a city I used to know and was trying to figure out the places with a dated sense of direction (after 18 years, Dilli had become NCR)
- I was trying to fit into a formal shirt after months of bingeing (I thought I looked retro in the old formal shirt that I had carried)
- I had to attend a launch party with a formal dress code in the next hour (okay, I knew about this meeting weeks back… just that it never occurred to me that I’d not fit into my old formal shirt)
Given the above, I was hurriedly hopping from one shirt label shop to another. Even in my hurry to quickly fit into socially acceptable formal attire, I couldn’t help noticing that not one of the store sales assistants were making any attempt to close a sale transaction. Their responses ranged from ignoring me completely to giving me a confused look. I never really understood people who are loathe to sell the stuff they make, but was this part of the problem? I wasn’t sure.
Selling actually is a process that involves ‘transference of emotion’ that usually involves empathy and passion. Remember, people don’t buy what they need; they always buy what they want! I could have shown up wearing my ill-fitting formal shirt, and the only person feeling conscious would have been me! Technically, I didn’t need another shirt… one confession that my wife will wholeheartedly support.
Passion is a force – and an essential one at that. If you’re not passionate about your service or product, you shouldn’t be selling it in the first place. If you have to fake enthusiasm, your customers will spot the insincerity in no time.
Customers are the reason we exist. Customers determine what we eat, where we live and whether we stay in business at all. We can keep our shops and offices going until we go bankrupt, but unless we have customers to sell to, we have no purpose. Hence, understanding our customers’ and potential customers’ needs and demonstrating empathy in behaviour is essential.
Theoretically, all of mankind can be called sales personnel - everything we do involves selling, so might as well do it happily. The real formula for successful selling is maximizing value for customers. By that I mean radiate with passion, demonstrate that you care… Just showing up, and answering only when a customer persistently asks questions is NOT SELLING. Any machine can do that. Machines are punctual, accurate, and don’t get paid sales incentives. Besides, they never have hang-overs. Hence a sales person’s job is to do something that a vending machine can’t:
1. Make customers happy
2. Give them a good experience and possibly make them come back.
By the way, I did pick up a nice formal shirt from a fairly rundown shop, where the mother-son duo that ran it was eager to help me, enthusiastic about explaining why a grey striped shirt qualifies as formal attire, and quick to pack my T-shirt neatly and help me get a cab right across the road!