Monday, April 9, 2012

Reflections on a decent day in sales

Yamaha Clavinova
As lessons in sales go, Saturday was an interesting day at the store where I work, the Piano Gallery/Music Superstore, on 17th Street.

It was pretty much me and Mike Brown holding the fort. Mike's job is to sell pianos, and his special expertise is in the Yamaha Clavinova. I sell guitars, and my passion is for acoustic guitars from C.F. Martin & Co., of Nazareth, Pa. It turned out to be a good day for both of us.

In the late morning, a family came looking for an electric keyboard. Something basic would have cost them around $1,000, but Mike showed them a Clavinova. Why? Because he gets excited about them and likes to talk about them. His demonstration had them laughing, singing along and practically dancing. Watching from the cash register, I was sure the sale was his for the closing, and it was.

A few hours later, a couple walked in looking for a Martin guitar. They gravitated toward the little mahogany 00-15, a fine instrument that normally sells for $1,149. They liked the warm tone (rosewood is bolder and more direct). I agreed they'd get a lot of enjoyment from the 00-15. But since they liked the sound of mahogany, why not try out the 00-18V?

Right away I could tell they loved it, but at $2,499 it was more than they had in mind. But you know what they say: Love will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no love. We kept talking.

I've been a Martin player for more than 23 years. When I first got my D-19 (after 20 years on the Epiphone I got for Christmas when I was 13), the first thing that went through my head was, "I have never sounded this good in my life." It was like getting out of a Buick Regal and into a Porsche 911.

This is a lifetime purchase, so why not spend more on something special? My new friends went home with the 00-18V (they got it for less than they would have paid if they'd bought it new on the Internet, by the way.)

On reflection, it occurred to me was that when you're in sales you can be one of two types. Some people sell because they're naturals at it. It doesn't matter whether it's insurance, advertising, automobiles or club memberships. They go at it because it's who they are.

Martin 00-18V
"She takes advantage of people and they thank her for it," a woman I know told me about her sister, who is one of these types.

Then there are those of us who really need to focus on a particular product, who need something they can hold or touch and get fired up about. I gravitated toward guitars because I love playing them, and there's nothing that turns me on more than playing a really good one. If I could sell one every day, I guess I'd be doing great.

Whichever category you fall into, you have to sell as though your life depends on it. Everybody's in sales, whether or not they believe it. You sell yourself at a job interview. You sell yourself on Facebook. Unless you're dependent on charity, something that's not exactly abundant these days, you don't eat if you don't make money.

Do you believe in yourself and what you do? It's nice to have a day when you can answer that question with a "yes."