The Best Lessons I Learned from a Successful Salesman

I remember traveling the country, joining my dad in the summertime during my college years. I learned to drive a pick-up, change tires, use heavy machinery, figure out what makes people happy, and endless miles of sing-a-long tunes. Although I’m not in sales, here are the best lessons I learned from a successful salesman: my dad.

Stand your ground with a smile.

There is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. Being pushy and overly aggressive can not only offend others but also scare away prospective customers. On the other hand, being confident and in tune with the other’s needs, you can draw in friends, coworkers, and customers.
Always be calm, positive, and honest.

Listen with your eyes.

I remember asking my dad how did he know what other people needed? His answer was always the same: listen with your eyes.

I bet you can imagine my face every time he said it.

My dad explained it in simple terms: sometimes people say one thing, but their body language is expressing the opposite. For instance, you always promise your mom to clean up your room, but your eye-rolling and grin face tells that you won’t do it any time soon, right?

Sure, there is no mystery behind me not cleaning up, that is a simple thing, but what about people you don’t know? Customers, coworkers, classmates, acquaintances?

My dad told me that before offering products to his clients, he lets them talk first. Understanding what others are telling you about a specific situation or problem is what you need for listening with your eyes: tone of voice, facial expressions, and body posture.

The way your client, coworker or classmate, presents information is how you find out the best way to approach them and empathize with them.

“When offering products or services, think about how you can assist the client in choosing the option that best suits their needs, not your monthly quota. Pushing a sale will end up in returns, and that is something you don’t want. It makes you look bad, my dad said, but if you give them what they need, they always call you back because they trust you”.


Let them know you are thinking of them.

Customers expect you to be knowledgeable in several areas. They expect you to know your product and your company. They also expect you to know something about them and their company. It is also helpful to know about your competition. By doing some research before, you can determine the customer’s wants and needs. Knowing your client is a trait that everyone in sales and marketing needs to have.

My dad not only knew about his customers’ company but since he is an active listener, he always had a goodie bag filled with things with him. Every time he met with a client, my dad gave them some trinket saying “you told me you liked (whatever) look what I found in my last trip, hope you like it” They always did.

Never arrive uninvited

Take a little extra time and let your customer or coworker know you’ll be stopping by. Email, text, or good old fashion phone call, let them know beforehand to avoid wasting time and awkwardness.

My dad always calls his seasonal clients, before the season starts, staying ahead of the competition to the customer, and showing the customer that he takes time and interest in them and their world.

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Be authentic and optimistic.

Good salespeople aren’t enthusiastic because of the sale itself. They make the sale because of their good vibes, positive attitude, and enthusiasm.

My dad always looks at the glass half-full, the rainbow after the storm, and a coffee with donuts. He has that kind of vibe that makes you smile, no matter what.

My kids love his awful dad-jokes and never-ending stories, but he is like that all the time. “you need stories to share and make people happy if you have good advice pass it on. That’s what advice is for; eventually, someone will give you advice.” That, I learned from him.

A second thing my dad told me was always to be myself. Being yourself shows you can be trusted. By being yourself and building trust, you are making a relationship between you and the customer.


Be present

Have you ever heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind?” If you don’t see something, you don’t think about it. If a customer or a coworker doesn’t hear from you for an extended time, they assume that you don’t like them, in the case of the clients, that you do not want any business with them.

There are many ways for you to communicate or check in with your clients. A quick stop in their shop, a telephone call, email, or text message lets them know that you are thinking of them.

Still Working

After 50 years of traveling up and down Mexico, my dad still goes out selling his products, twice a week my mom drives him all the way to meet his clients because he doesn’t drive anymore.

The best lessons I’ve learned about successful sales come from my dad’s long life experience.


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