While phone-call phobias and rejection anxieties used to color my perception of sales, Nine years and 3/4ths of a public relations degree later, I landed myself a summer internship most would kill for. In sales. And I loved it.
My internship with Bluebridge Digital not only debunked several myths and preconceived notions about selling but also changed my life in ways I didn’t anticipate.
Myth 1: Making phone calls to strangers is scary.
While cold-calling made my palms sweat at first, after a week of “Hi is so-and-so there?” I was totally comfortable ringing up random people from all over the country. Most of the people I talked with were very friendly, and the grumpy people just became characters in interesting stories.
Myth 2: Sales calls are script-y and impersonal.
I talked from a script for the first few days, but I became so comfortable with the content that I could deliver my pitch my memory, adding bits and pieces when I felt necessary. This helped keep each interaction personal, and I called with the mindset of making new friends.
Myth 3: Rejection is immanent in sales.
Firstly, you will never succeed with that kind of attitude. Second, rejection does happen, but not to you personally. When making a sales call, you are pitching a product or service, so if the answer is “no,” it’s directed at said product or service. And even then, “no” doesn’t always mean “no.”
I do not exaggerate when I say my internship in sales changed my life. Making phone calls, drafting emails and running sales meetings taught me….
1. How to hold a productive meeting. All too often, meetings of any kind can be frustratingly unproductive, because no one knows the agenda or end goal. In sales, it is essential to begin every conversation with an “up-front contract,” or UFC for short. The UFC establishes the goal and the agenda of the meeting, and keeps both parties informed of what needs to be accomplished by the end of the meeting.
2. How to verbally gain trust and encourage action. Salespeople are less sellers than counselors or doctors. The key to prospecting is asking good questions to “diagnose” a need, a need that you can fix. People do not buy products, I learned, they buy solutions. People don’t care about what it is or what it does, they want to know what problem it will solve, and YOU are the expert they’re trusting.
3. How to use the sales process in the job hunt process. Securing a job follows the same steps as closing a deal, and understanding the process has helped tremendously when it comes to actually selling my brand and skills to potential employers. It takes someone an average of six “touches” for a message to stick, therefore patience and repetition is key whether you’re selling a product or marketing yourself. Tailoring and modifying your communication to fit each situation is key. Once you’ve landed the interview or booked the sales meeting, stating a clear UFC and asking clarifying questions is essential to both making a good first impression and getting an accurate assessment of the “need” at hand. And, in the job search process, you may be the solution to your interviewers problem.
4. How to use the sales process in just about any situation. Looking to talk your way out of a speeding ticket? Need to borrow your roommates iPad for the weekend? Want to get your guy friends to take you to the new Nicholas Sparks movie? It’s all about the UFC, the pitch and finally, the sale.
Needless to say, I'm now a pro at ordering pizza.