The Sales Bible

“Service is selling and selling is service.”

I learned that lesson from someone I never expected to learn any lesson from. A number of years ago I had a training job working with all of the Texaco and Shell dealers in New England and New York. When I first got started, I needed to be trained to know what it was like working at a gas station and convenience store. I worked at three different stations that knew that I was there to observe their actions and habits.

The next phase was to work at three stations that did not know I was a trainer and developer. I was assigned to work at this one particular station in Rhode Island and report to Ralph, the Assistant to the Assistant Manager.  Ralph was one of the nicest human beings I had ever met. He was hard working and took his job very seriously. He had worked at this station for 11 years. His career goal was to work hard to eventually become the Assistant Manager.

Many people would look at Ralph and consider him slow, but a better worker I don’t think you could ever find. The station was busy from the moment I got there. All I kept hearing Ralph say to every customer was “Don’t forget to buy your lottery tickets. It’s up to 42 million dollars tonight.” Customer after customer, he would say, “Don’t forget the lottery tickets!” or “You could be a millionaire!” or “We want to have a winner from this station!” This went on and on for almost two hours, until there was a break in the action and I turned to Ralph and said to him, “Ralph, you’re a great salesman!” When I said that his face turned bright red, the veins in his neck popped out, and in a firm, harsh voice he said, “I am not a salesman type. I was just taking care of my customers!”

When we are selling a customer we are really servicing them, and when we service well we are really selling.

The thing that was so powerful about Ralph was that he not only sold a lot of tickets, but every single customer thanked him. Great salespeople never feel like they are selling, because it feels natural and they are helping the customer, not “selling” the customer.

Does the best salesperson always make the sale?

Does the best store always sell to every customer?

Does the best politician always get elected?

Does the best person always get the job?

The answer to each of these questions is “NO!”

Generally, the winner always seems to be the one who we like. Buyers will go to trade shows and will walk by booths of businesses that have great products, deliver on time and have terrific prices, but they don’t do business with them. Why? Because they don’t like them! I have actually talked to buyers who feel guilty because they’re not making rational decisions. They are right, their decision-making is not rational. They are truly predictably irrational. Predictably Irrational is the title of a best-selling book by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist.