Selling product outside your comfort zone

By Aaron Clevenger (LinkedIn profile), treasurer, Generation Next
Muncie Power Products

This article was originally published in the June 2020 edition of Generation Next Edition.

We’ve all been there, trying to make sure the conversation doesn’t stray from the plan. You’ll do anything not to show nerves, clammy palms, or erratic speech. Being comfortable is a way to play it safe, but being uncomfortable is how we expand, develop, and grow.

Every salesperson has that one product line (or in many cases, more), that we just aren’t comfortable talking about. You’ve put a lot of effort into making sure you have the best sellers at the forefront of your mind. You haven’t had the opportunity to really dig in with some of the other product, and as a creature of habit, you shy away from those conversations. However, those conversations can be pivotal opportunities for not only your customer and the company you represent, but also for your professional growth. Here are some ways I have found that help when dealing with uncomfortable product.

First and foremost, you have to understand your role and your obligation to your company. Specifically in sales, you need to understand that what you’re doing on the front line is not just generating profits, it’s also helping provide a paycheck for your colleagues. Your role is to sell all product lines - not just the ones you are comfortable with. You will also need to grasp the concept that most of your best selling product will typically have the most competition. Other companies have seen your employer have success and are trying to replicate that for themselves.

A place where you may find your biggest opportunities for product growth, in many instances, are in products you don’t see flying off the shelf. I have been in many situations where I asked about lesser known product and the customer wasn’t aware we carried it. Talking about these products not only makes you appear more knowledgeable, but also gives a perception that you can be a one-stop-shop vendor. Customers appreciate your flexibility and drive to help them in as many avenues as possible.

If you’re in the sales profession, you have an obligation to take care of your customer. You owe it to your customer to fill them in on every product you have, regardless of your reservations. In the end, the customer decides what and where they buy; but it starts with you presenting what’s available.

Talking about the product is more than half the battle. You may not be extremely knowledgeable on the product….. for now. Each and every one of us has the resources to succeed in these situations. Take every scenario as an opportunity to learn about that product as you are selling it. It may be uncomfortable now, but after this one sale you could have another weapon in your arsenal.

Lastly, always have the mindset that you are the professional. You are, in every sense of the word, in this profession. People rely on you to get them what they need. You may not have all of the answers, but you are still a professional. Don’t be afraid to tell someone “I don’t know, but I’ll find out." Allow yourself to gain confidence in your abilities. Utilize your resources, whether it is your own research or consulting with your team. The hard times are what generates professional growth. When you grow, things become a little easier.

Keeping the conversation in YOUR wheelhouse will allow you to coast, but putting the conversation in your CUSTOMER’S wheelhouse will allow you to knock it out of the park.

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