Where You Sell
Your sales career will be most productive if you find products, services, and customers that fit your skills, personality, needs, and goals. You will be more prolific if you enjoy what you do. A component of that decision is to determine where you prefer to sell. It can either expand or limit your career.
Where can you sell products and services to consumers or businesses? The right answer is: Wherever the customers are. However, the decision of what to sell also can depend on where you feel most comfortable selling. For example, some people don't like to talk on the telephone, while others prefer it. Some abhor going to a client's office to make a sale, but feel comfortable selling in their own office. Some salespeople do their best in meetings but become nervous when talking with individual buyers, especially reluctant ones.
Consider your own selling comfort zone. Where do you prefer to sell? Does this limit what you can sell? How can you develop your comfort for selling in other places? Many salespeople are good at what they do, but unhappy because they are selling outside of their comfort zone.
Many new salespeople quickly become frustrated because they try to sell too far outside of their comfort zone. It can be rewarding to expand your current skills, but going too far beyond them can be exasperating. For example, if you have no experience with selling to major business clients, develop required skills before you do. As needed, apprentice yourself to a professional seller who can help you develop the skills needed to be successful.
Selling at Your Location
The majority of retail sales are conducted at your employer's location, such as in a mall or downtown shop. For many buyers, this is comfortable; in fact, it can be enjoyable to get out of the house and go “shopping” to see the latest merchandise selection. Salespeople, too, often prefer selling to customers who come to them. Buyers coming into a retail store accept that someone will attempt to assist them in buying. In fact, many welcome the assistance — if done professionally.
Especially if you are new to sales, you may feel more comfortable selling at your employer's store. Of course, because you are not seeking out and developing customers — they are seeking your store out — your pay typically will be lower. However, the majority of new salespeople prefer to sell at their location. It's in their comfort zone.
Selling at the Buyer's Location
As you develop selling skills and understand the process better you will discover that there are more potential buyers in the world than those who visit your employer's place of business. In fact, if you take the initiative and go to the buyers' locations, you will expand your world of potential buyers and probably your sales income. As described earlier in this chapter, the salespeople who sell at the buyer's location typically make more money.
Professionals who sell at the buyer's location include those working in industrial sales, wholesale sales, advertising sales, door-to-door sales, and some insurance sales. They must identify and visit prospective buyers, rather than wait for them to show up at a store or office. They must prospect, or identify potential buyers. This process requires additional time, knowledge, and skills. That's why selling at the buyer's location can be more profitable for you.
Some sales jobs require that you conduct business only at the buyer's location or may discourage buyer visits if the sales office is no more than a few desks and filing cabinets. In some cases the seller may work out of his or her home, car, or delivery truck. Are you comfortable with that?
Selling at Both Locations
There are many ways in which both the buyer's and seller's locations are involved in the sales process. The most common is in real estate sales. The sales process may begin in the real estate office, move to the buyer's or seller's home, continue at homes offered for sale, and culminate at a financial or escrow office. Along the way, the sale process will continue in the agent's car, a coffee shop, and at other locations. Before getting into this and similar careers, make sure that you are comfortable — or can become so — working in these various environments.
Alternatively, you can sell at both your location and that of the buyer by using the telephone as your primary meeting place. Millions of dollars in sales are made daily without any face-to-face contact between the buyer and seller. In the business world, this is called inside sales.
Wholesale merchandise, for example, is purchased from wholesalers via telephones and the Internet using inside salespeople. They have product knowledge, basic sales and customer service skills, and a desire to help. They typically are paid a salary plus a small commission or bonus and can handle dozens or even hundreds of orders in a business day. For many salespeople, inside sales fits their comfort zone better than any other type.
Selling at a Neutral Location
Sales also can occur in places other than where the buyer or seller normally conduct business. That's one of the functions of trade conventions. A convention is a location where sellers can offer their products and services to potential buyers. Some are in exotic locations, but most conventions are held where it is most convenient to the buyers. For example, manufacturing conventions often are located in the eastern or midwestern United States. Pacific trade conventions are usually on the West Coast of the United States or in Pacific Rim countries.
Business centers also serve as neutral locations for buyers and sellers in some industries. Business centers in major metropolitan areas include product showrooms, sales rep offices, and buyer offices in a single location. Nearby businesses support these centers with food, lodging, and entertainment.
Sales is a major profession within industrialized and consumer societies. It involves both business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions in a variety of locations. As you start or develop your sales career, carefully consider your opportunities, your options, and your unique abilities. Begin where you are most comfortable. For success, expand from your initial comfort zone.