In a recent Facebook post, a fellow virtual tour provider bemoaned that he needed to hire a sales and marketing team to grow his virtual tour business. Someone quickly responded that he should call me to which my husband quickly replied that I was already booked and definitely NOT available. I am the sales and marketing department for our successful assisted care photography business. I work with many new virtual tour providers who worry that they can’t do what we do because they aren’t good at sales.
When you think of a natural born sales man what traits and characteristics come to mind? We all know that person who could sell anything to anybody…whether they need it or not. Your experiences with sales may color your thinking. If you have been hounded by people trying to sell you something then the traits that come to mind may include pushy, obnoxious, distracting and someone who won’t take no for an answer. If you know someone who is truly successful in sales you may think of things like an outgoing personality, the ability to listen and a genuine interest in others.
One of my first jobs after college was selling fax machines in Atlanta. This was in 1989 when fax machines were the hottest new thing to hit the market and everyone wanted one because people were just realizing that they weren’t only for big businesses. The company I worked for offered a fine product but the price was over double what Sharp was selling their products for and my product offered no additional bells or whistles. For a comparable product, our entry level fax was $1,795 and Sharp’s was $995. The reason I did not close many sales was because when someone asked me why they should pay nearly double for a comparable product, I had no good answer. I had all the makings of a good salesperson but I was not selling a product at a price I believed was fair. I was told to sell the “value of the brand” but frankly, in a side by side comparison, there was no additional value. I originally led the company in appointments and cold calls but I failed miserably in closing sales and quickly became discouraged. This experience led me to believe that I was not cut out for sales and I didn’t try my hand at sales again until nearly 10 years later.
I have trained hundreds of salespeople and I have seen this proven many times. The people I thought would be the best at sales — those naturally gregarious folks who never met a stranger — often turned out to lack the discipline necessary to actually succeed in sales. In fact, I am one of those people. I, like many people who gravitate to sales, am a big picture thinker but am not so great when it comes to details. Luckily my husband is a great partner in our virtual tour business. As the virtual tour photographer, he is the creative genius behind what we do but he is also the detail guy who makes sure that those pesky details like invoicing and paying bills get done.
The secrets to the success of our virtual tour business are consistency, persistence and having a great product. Sales is nothing but a numbers game — the more contacts and calls I make, the more sales I make. This happens for two reasons. One is the fact that the more people I talk to, the more likely I am to find someone who is interested in what I am selling. But the second reason is that the more people I talk to, the more I understand my market and the perception of my product. Each time I overcome an objection or answer a question, I am better equipped for the next time.
Persistence doesn’t mean not taking no for an answer. Instead it means finding out if No really means No or does it possibly mean Not Yet. I continue calling a lead until I have determined that they do not need or want my product. If I have understood all their objections and explained the benefits of my product then there is nothing wrong with taking No for an answer.
Finally, I have a virtual tour software product that I believe in and THAT is the biggest secret to our success. Our virtual tour technology allows us to provide an excellent product at a very competitive price. My husband is a great photographer and has created workflows that allow us to provide exceptional virtual tours at a very affordable price. With the introduction of Fusion by RTV, Inc., we now have what I consider to be the greatest virtual tour platform on the market so all I need is the opportunity to show it to someone and the “sale” is easy.
Sales and marketing consultant Mike Sigers says it well, “There is no such thing as a natural born salesman. You become a “natural” by talking to and negotiating with thousands of people.” In other words, sales is something you learn to do – not something you are born with. I am definitely proof of that!