2 down, 63 to go

2 down, 63 to go

That’s my sales goal for the year, 65. I have successfully put down two sales. I am told my first one was the most difficult I’ll ever encounter, in fact it was the most difficult that the store had seen since it opened in 1968. There were a few moments that I didn’t want to keep going, where the benefit of succeeding felt out-weighed by the need for sanity!

It is so different waking up in the morning and remembering that it’s not about putting on the best suit and a confident face; it’s about being approachable and meeting a very real target. The toolbox I pick from in morning is a little different, I convince myself if Frank Abagnale Jr. could pass himself off as a pilot, doctor and legal prosecutor, the impossible is possible if I just throw-out both the rule book and type-cast. I pick passion and enthusiasm, without these I might as well just crawl back in bed.

Today I am thankful for my mentor who would spend hours coaching and giving me direction. The part that resounds with me today is creating personal brand and preparing mentally for whatever is going to happen the minute I step outside my door; personal brand being the characteristics that distinguish my abilities to deliver over my competitors. I must admit, there were days it was difficult to dig inside and be the better person and work on building personal brand. It was easier to focus on the details at hand and ignore the bigger picture.

My sales target forces me to work on personal brand in increments of 10 minutes or less. Unlike the world I knew, sales is much less forgiving and brand becomes extremely important. The politic is being able to demonstrate to your customers in a short time that you are qualified, will respect them more than anyone else in the business and will not let them down throughout the entire process.

Perched in my corporate tree house, sales seemed like murky water with no beginning or end. I don’t kid myself, I realize I sold every day in my job; I was selling ideas and solutions to business problems that cost little in resource and time. I could scuttle off on my own and find a way to make something happen that seemed impossible. It was targeted and specific; I worked hard at understanding systems, programs, and wait for it…..Microsoft Excel! It is true; it can be powerful and useful in the right context. The very thing I wanted to escape after graduating as a programmer I was holding on to.

So here I am, doing something that doesn’t require me to be good at Excel, or systems or programs. In fact the only technical skill needed to make a sale is a pencil and piece of paper!

This gets me back to my mentor and his consistent, patient prodding to build brand.

My first customer came into the store looking for something used and left with something new. A car is a highly emotional purchase, the second biggest transaction most of us will make behind purchasing a home. At the end of it all, the constant thread that kept the transaction going and tempers even, turned out to be constant communication, all part of the brand. There can be no room for fuzzy chance, it either is or it isn’t. If there are shades of grey, the grey must be outlined in black or white.

Drawing the line was important for my customer and it took everything in me to be consistent in tone and energy from the start of the sale to the very end. It was staying true to the brand that my customer had become accustomed to, the one they respected and trusted that had my customer leaving with a smile.

It will take time to perfect my personal brand but all in all, it is sure to be a rewarding experience.

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