Passion, Sales, and First Dates

building sales

Recently I was asked  what was the best way to inspire someone to be a great salesperson, or was it possible to teach someone to have an entrepreneurial spirit.  I responded… “Do they have passion?”

The most important attribute a sales person needs in the creative industry is passion. Although I’ve held many different jobs in the industry throughout my career, the one constant ingredient has been passion. If you don’t have passion, you can’t build trust with potential clients; and trust is at the foundation of all sales.

In this industry, our collective clients work many hours developing, revising, updating, and re-revising a creative concept for the brand.  After finally getting approval for it to be produced, they simply don’t want to hand it off to a vendor they don’t trust.

I represented editors, but didn’t edit myself. I sold the services of graphic artists, but haven’t ever played with Cinema 4D or After Effects preferences. Over the 14 years of owning an original music company, I never learned to play the guitar. That is not to say I didn’t know a great deal about each of these creative fields, because I do. I just believe that with uncompromising passion, some confidence, and great appreciation for the craft, you can represent any creative endeavor. I used to tell my young sales rep that we have great composers, wonderful musicians, and the latest and greatest technology, but so does our competition. So don’t worry about selling music, Your job is to simply build trust.

This same sales rep came to me later and said she was having difficulty grasping the “sales thing.”  She was nervous about making calls and chatting it up with clients at local events.  She didn’t want to come off as a stereotypical used car salesman.  I tried explaining the whole “trust thing” again, but I didn’t think it was sinking in.

We decided to pick up the conversation in the morning.  As I was leaving, I overheard her and another employee telling stories of their recent first dates. I interrupted the conversation because I thought a first date analogy might make more sense with this individual.

I explained that being a sales person is much like being on a first date.  You want to present the best you on your first date. You want to be smart, approachable, and funny.  You need to look good, be confident, and entertaining.  You’re not being disingenuous; you’re simply presenting the best you.

So, I told her from 9-5, work as if you’re on a first date, but instead of representing the best you, you’re representing the best us. Be witty, be confident, be creative, be fun, be charming. Know when to talk and convince them of your strengths, and know when to shut up because you’ve convinced them already. Build a relationship with the client. No one expects to get married after the first date, and you shouldn’t expect to receive a huge check or contract after your first sales meeting. That’s how you build sales.  Do your job well and exceed the client’s expectations, that’s how you build trust.  Make a difference in all of the above, and that’s how you build an entrepreneur.

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