If they don’t buy you, they won’t, the product

If they don’t buy you, they won’t buy what you are selling. You are as much a product as the one you are selling. So sell yourself first.

One day, I asked my plumber to refer me to an electrician and he did. Only problem is the fellow arrived smelling body odour. And when he opened his mouth, the fumes he emitted would easily run a brewery. I sent him away. Well, actually, the wife did. She dismissed him right at the gate! “But she wanted the services of an electrician,” you argue. Yes. And possibly this electrician is the best at what he does. True. But customers don’t state the obvious. For instance, customers don’t say they want a clean school that does not encourage cheating when selecting a school for their child. This is assumed to be a given. They say instead, that they want a school that performs well. However, if they discover the obvious isn’t then they don’t buy the school.

You are your product’s messenger

Now then. The smelly electrician may be dismissed as informal and yet he is representative of many formal sellers. For instance, you would assume that a corporate bank relationship manager would not struggle with grooming, and you would be wrong. I was training a team of such sellers and was asked to talk about grooming because there was this one fellow that did not see the need to put on a tie or suit. His argument: “What matters is what I know.” But what you know does not drop like manna from heaven. It must be packaged and delivered. So sell yourself first. Because, when selling, buyers will shoot the messenger, and therefore, the message too. Even if they don’t because the electrical fault repair is an emergency, they will engage this one time only and never again.

If they don't buy you

Male female attraction

If they don’t buy you, they won’t buy what you are selling. So profound is this that, informed by (sales losing) experience, a recruitment firm I know has ladies in customer facing positions because most decision makers are men. Admittedly, it is true service industry is the most affected by this phenomenon. In this industry, the seller is the product. What he says, what he does and how he does it paint an image of what the service is. Products are different. Products speak for themselves. For instance, the customer can try out the pen or jacket. However, when the disheveled attendant appears, ponging fumes suddenly the allure of the jacket starts to fade.

If they don’t buy you, you lose

Does this mean being in suit all the time? Of course not. If I’m auditioning for a DJ or teambuilding facilitator, I’m likely to, respectively, ‘buy’ the fellow in (kempt) dreadlocks and the one in (matching) pair of tracksuit. You must sell yourself first before doing so the product or service. So look the part. In dress, speech and hygiene. And with second hand clothes readily available cost cannot be an excuse. Just as it cannot for brushing your teeth. Otherwise, you will keep losing sales for something that buyers will never tell you.


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