The Hard Sell
I was 15.
I sat at a mahogany desk, holding the phone in my quivering hand. On the other line was an International customer, interested in buying gemstones. As in rubies and diamonds, gemstones.
I remember the words flowed out of me, asking questions, negotiating a rate and discussing our buying process, directly from the source with non-heat treated gemstones (a rarity in the industry).
When I hung up the phone my eyebrows raised. The corners of my lips raised in a slight smile and I let out an exhale, leaning back in my chair.
It started in my dad’s business, as a longtime gemologist with an international business of selling to consumers and other gemstones buyers/partners I learned how he sold, how he interacted with customers and all through high school and in the Summers in college, I worked there filtering from different responsibility to the next.
Today, I’m leading the charge as Director of Marketing and Sales at another startup I’m part of, where each action and step I take, make an impact guiding the team and vision. I find myself talking all day long. I’m on the phone with customers, I’m providing answers, I’m servicing during our product trials, I’m recommending new features to our product team, I’m problem-solving with support and I’m socially sharing.
I never thought I would be involved in the hustling end of sales. I’m not a ball buster. I’m not sleazy. Those are all the things we may associate with sales, right?
Steve Martin shared in Harvard Business Review a case study revealing traits of top salespeople and I was intrigued to see at the top of the list was modesty.
Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 percent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over.
Other traits included curiosity and contentious among others.
With both my parents as entrepreneurs, I find that even if you’re not in a role that involves sales, you must know how to sell. It is applicable in everyday life, when you’re finding a new job, when you’re interacting with friends or in a professional circle.
I’m pleased to see modesty stand through. After all, humility is one of my favorite traits in people. I’m completely drawn to it and it’s truly about understanding how to create and cultivate a relationship.
How do you find the role of sales in your life? Do you despise it? Do you find success from just understanding how to interact with people?