February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 13 • On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate the sales profes- sion against other occupations in terms of being respected and admirable? • What are some things that top-flight sales professionals do that average sales reps can't do, don't think to do, or aren't willing to do? • Why do you think customers buy goods and services from one company and not others that offer similar things? The average response to the first question was 7.2. Not bad, but only three of 22 applicants gave the sales profession a nine or 10 rating. I had to withhold my shocked reaction when two candidates boldly answered "three" to the question. Most respondents qualified their answer by making sure I was asking them for their opinion of the profession and not the public. Had I phrased the question "how would today's consumer rate the sales profession against other oc- cupations in terms of being respected and admirable?" I am sure I would have received a much lower average response. When I asked what separates the top dogs from the rest of the sales pack, over half the answers dealt with the individual's drive and work ethic. I would agree with that to some extent, but I was disappointed that most made no reference to the role of the customer in most ac- complished salesperson's success. Larry Steinmetz, author of many books on the art of successful selling, conducted a study of world- class sales professionals and what sets them apart. He found the top three behavioral characteristics of the consummate salesperson are superior listening skills, the consistency of keeping promises, and the ability to build genuine personal and professional relationships with clients, all of which involve the customer.

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