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Let’s Call It What It Is – It’s Sales!

It seems like everybody wants to “repackage” or “re-brand” sales these days.

They call the process anything and everything but “Sales”. It also seems that everybody wants to re-title salespeople anything other than “Salespeople.”

They are referred to as “Customer Service Rep”, “Customer Relationship Advisor”, “Service Counselor”, “Customer Experience Team Member”, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for customer service, creating a great customer experience, and making the salespeople feel “warm and fuzzy” about their title and their job, but it is sales and they are salespeople. When did “sales” and “salespeople” become dirty words?

It’s a noble profession, when done right, but maybe that’s part of the problem, often enough these days, it’s not being done right. Today, a great salesperson is as rare a find as financially stable retailers! Could it be that all these “Customer Relationship Advisors” don’t realize that they are in sales since it’s not part of their title?

What about the process of selling? Do they even understand the basics of selling? Do you think that they even own a book on selling?

Speaking of books, I read in a sales book not too long ago where the author explained he was against all systems of selling. His rationale was that selling systems focus on the “selling” process, which he deemed bad. I’ve spent over thirty years perfecting and teaching the “selling” process. I’m a big fan of it!

Maybe I’m “Old School”, but I like actually being “Greeted” by someone when I walk into their store. More often than not, I’m the one that does the “Greeting”, and judging from the reactions that I get, I must not be very good at it.

I guess I need to find some better way to get their attention without interrupting their personal conversations with other “Customer Sensitivity Professionals”. Moving through the process, I’m never offended if they take the time to properly “Qualify” me, I’m funny that way.

I actually think it’s easier to sell me the right product when you take the time to ask some questions about my lifestyle and my use of the product. Walking me around and reading all the fact tags may seem to be low pressure, but it’s one of the quickest ways to end our “relationship”. What happened to learning the product? When I used to sell, that’s right “sell” I took the time to actually learn how the stuff worked so I could demonstrate it to the customer.

Now that I think of it, I can’t even remember the last time I got a fantastic product “Demonstration”. Wait, to be truthful I do remember. I was buying a pair of shoes and the “Salesperson” was trying to “sell” me some waterproofing. She pulled a tissue out of a tissue box on the counter, sprayed it with water proofing, showed me how to hold it between my two hands, and proceeded to pour water on it from a cup she had behind the counter. I was amazed that the water ran right off the tissue without soaking in at all. She skillfully commented at that very moment, “Imagine how it will protect your leather.” All I could say was “wow”. As a professional “salesperson”, she correctly recognized my comment as a buying signal and proceeded to the next step in the selling process. She “Closed” the sale by recommending that I get two cans of waterproofing with my new shoes. SOLD! Now that’s selling! I felt like throwing a fake “objection” her way just to see her work, but I didn’t have the heart. I also recognize that her time is money, as did she, since she was already “Greeting” another customer while she rang me up. She was a true salesperson that really understood, that done right; the process of “selling” will create a great customer experience, deliver exceptional customer service and forge a lasting relationship. If you are wondering what her title was, her nametag just said “SALES”.

Tom Hebrock is retail services VP at Stuart and Associates, a consulting firm working with manufacturers and retailers on returns reduction programs, extended service plan sales programs and training. Visit or call (615) 371-9319.