Yesterday morning, just before our holiday road trip, the phone rang.
"Hello, it's Curt. Your firewood guy. How are you?"
"Hey Curt, Good. how are you?"
"Great. Say, I never told you this before but we also sell Christmas trees and wanted to know if you might need one?"
"Well, we usually buy one down the street from the Optimists."
"Oh, okay. Well...you know...I'm about ten minutes from your house...do you want to at least look at them?"
"I would but we're going to be leaving in about forty minutes for a road trip. I don't want to be late and I haven't even gotten ready yet."
"Sure. Well, we hand select each tree each year. These are really beautiful trees. Most places get their trees a few weeks before they sell them."
"Yeah, I noticed that the trees showed up where we buy them a couple weeks ago...all bundled up. But...can you call me next year? I'll probably buy one from you then."
"Sure. I can but we cut them every year the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and deliver them fresh the same day. These are really beautiful trees."
"How much are they?"
"Seventy five dollars."
"That's about what we pay for our tree every year."
"I'm five minutes from your house...can I stop by?"
"...okay.... why don't you come by the house real quick."
Salesmanship is a great and lost art. A talent. A gift.
Think about it; nothing gets done in a free enterprise economy without someone selling something.
An entrepreneur sells a husband or a wife on the idea of quitting "the job" to start a business.
Then a sale is made to investors, bankers and the first few employees.
And of course, to customers.
Politicians sell themselves to staff volunteers, then to campaign contributors and then to voters.
No one has a job in America, without someone selling something; an idea, a new product or service, or a new way of doing something...unless you work for the government.
Without salespeople, our economy would stop on a dime.
A top salesperson in a corporation may be responsible for the creation hundreds of jobs.
Your server at the restaurant is a salesperson. So is your doctor and so is your CPA, if they are good at what they do.
An author sells an idea to an agent, then an editor and ultimately to a publisher.
A good financial advisor doesn't sell products, rather a process. A process helps their client get where they want and need to be in the future.
Most employees sells their services, first via their resume, then an interview.
Show me a great leader and I'll show you a great salesperson.
So why did I buy the tree? Because I admired Curt's ability to push, but not to far. To sell me and without giving up too soon.
If you disagree, maybe it is because you have a different definition of a sale. A professional sale is an honest and ethical transfer of enthusiasm and conviction to a prospect that needs or wants what the salesperson has to offer. In the end, both parties feel they left each other better than they found them, and the result is a win-win.
Curt's tree was better. As we sampled the trees on the back of his truck, they were full, aromatic and beautiful. They were fresh cut. I picked one and it was delivered to my door at the same price as the one I'd usually have to go pick from rows and rows, wait my turn to pay, tie to the top of my truck, and carry it into the house.
His product was better, more convenient, and at a fair price.
That's genuine, honest, professional salesmanship.
They say the easiest sales are always made to salespeople. Do you know why that is? Because professionals always always have an appreciation for other professionals in their field. Good salespeople are true professionals.
Next year...guess where I'll be getting my tree?
Along the same lines, here is one of my favorite scenes from Boiler Room (caution: vulgar language).