Changing Face of Salesmanship: Intangible Soft Attributes– Attitude, Rapport, Credibility, Curiosity, Behavior, Knowledge, Relationship…

Salesmanship is a process that; makes your customers smarter, focuses on relationships (not transactions), makes it safe and easy to leave, doesn’t disparage the competition, and doesn’t judge the customer.

Salesmanship: There are many definitions, characterizations, descriptions, interpretations, concepts, attitudes, prospective, presentations… In the words of W.G. Carter, “salesmanship is an attempt to induce people to buy goods.”

In the words of Whitehead; “it’s the art of presenting offerings when the prospect appreciates the need, and when a mutually satisfactorily sale follows.” According to G. Blake writes; salesmanship consists of winning the buyer’s confidence for both the seller’s company and goods, thereby winning regular and permanent customers– with emphasis on lasting satisfaction”.

According to Paul W. Ivey; salesmanship is the art of persuading people to purchase goods which will give lasting satisfactions, and winning over the buyer’s confidence so that permanent goodwill may be built with lasting satisfaction”. According to Amey Puranik; “salesmanship is an art of persuasion and customer satisfaction. The fundamental (requisites) of success in the ‘art of salesmanship’ is ‘knowledge’: Knowledge of self, knowledge of selling techniques, knowledge of customers, knowledge of product, knowledge of company, knowledge of competitors.”

In the article The Art of Salesmanship Is the Absence of Salesmanship by Jack Carroll writes:  My career in sales has undergone three separate and distinct phases, or levels of growth. It’s a track I’ve seen in others who have hung around long enough to establish some kind of a pattern, so it might be instructive to discuss my view on the ‘art of salesmanship’. The three characteristics are:

  • The Art of Salesmanship is Showmanship: Characterized by the development of sophisticated and polished presentation skills that almost unfailingly dazzle (but do not always win the business). ‘Positive aspects’: good exhibition of product knowledge wrapped in exceptional presentation skills. You receive many compliments on style. ‘Negative aspects’: One-sided approach that doesn’t take into consideration much of what is going on with the customer. If their eyes don’t light up on one of your presentation points, you’re in trouble.
  • The Art of Salesmanship is the Concealment of Salesmanship: Characterized by well-prepared, interactive questions that elicit the right responses from the customer. ‘Positive aspects’: interaction with and feedback from the customer. ‘Negative aspects’: Often a stacked deck. Leading questions usually reveal what you think the issues and problems are, not what the customer knows they are.
  • The Art of Salesmanship is the Absence of Salesmanship: Characterized by a quiet, relaxed, well-prepared salesperson who forgets every aspect of technique and just listens and reacts in real-time.  ‘Positive aspects’: It’s so easy to tell the truth. ‘Negative aspects’: It often takes a lifetime in sales before one has the confidence to say almost nothing and communicate effectively.

In the articleSalesmanship Lessons From Donald Trump by Mark Stevens writes: In his bestselling book ‘The Art of the Deal’  by Donald Trump; provides a unique perspective on constructing and negotiating business transactions. But as much as we know ‘Trump’ as a deal-maker extraordinaire, his greatest skill is his salesmanship. Think of ‘The Donald’ as a salesman on steroids. And in this lesser-recognized role, ‘Trump’ practices ‘the art of the thrill’, which means ‘dress to impress’ and ‘go big or go home’. The lessons we can learn from this for our own ‘salesmanship’ are:

  • Never do things for your customers and prospects in a small way. Make it ‘big and important’ or ‘don’t do it at all’.
  • Everyone likes to do business with a winner. No matter what stage of your career, you need to look like you’ve made it.
  • Bring your ego with you in full bloom. It’s not enough to look successful; you need to act it as well.
  • You don’t sell: ‘You Thrill’.

In the article “Top 7 Principles Of Professional Salesmanship” by Jonathan Farrington writes: I received a call from an ex-student who was designing an induction program for new recruits about to embark on a career in sales. He asked that if one had to create ‘twelve golden principles of selling’, what would I come up with. I responded that I could do better than that; I could reduce my list to seven. Clearly this is a very subjective view but mindful, of the fact, that this exercise is designed to provide guidance to salespeople just starting on the first rung of the ladder, this is what I came up with.

  • Always sell to people.
  • You have to sell yourself.
  • You must ask questions and listen to the answers.
  • Features must be linked to benefits.
  • Aim to be unique – ‘me first’ rather than ‘me too’.
  • Don’t sell on price.
  • Be professional at all times.

In the article “In a Test of Sales Savvy– Selling a Red Brick on YouTube” by Stuart Elliott writes: The goal isrecreate the noble art of ka-ching.” There’s an interesting case to be made that advertising has strayed too far from the business of salesmanship, which is unfortunate because it can be ‘a good test of how well you understand people and your creativity’…

Another observation by Brian Fetherstonhaugh, OgilvyOne, says; “salesmanship has been lost in the pursuit of art and the dazzle of technology. It needs to be rekindled, as consumers are making more informed and deliberate choices. At the same time, technologies like the Internet and social media are putting the consumer in control, and now the salesperson– needs to get invited-in. That means selling is less about intrusion and repetition and more about engagement and evangelizing”.

According to Mr. Zucker: “If we believe in selling, and our founder (Ogilvy) was a salesman, we have a special responsibility to reassert the importance of salesmanship. Mr. Ogilvy, who died in 1999, expressed his philosophies in colorful ways. Once, referring to his stove-selling days, he said: “No sale, no commission, no eat.” That made an impression on me…”

In the article Salesmanship” by Donald DonOmite writes:  Salesmanship is the ability to persuade others to buy one’s products, services, ideas… which is not necessarily something that a person is born with. Effective salesmanship is composed of specific abilities and attitudes which can be named and learned. One can adopt and develop these basic attitudes, and two of the basic attitudes which define effective salesmanship are: 1) an orientation to set and reach goals, and 2) a strong sense of persistence.

Three of the actual skills or abilities which are required for effective salesmanship are: 1) an ability to win the prospect’s trust, so that his communication with the salesman remains open and honest; 2) an ability to present a product or service in such a way that the prospect builds strong enough interest and desire to want to acquire the product or service; and 3) an ability to smoothly overcome any and all objections which might come up so that the sale closes successfully. And even more essential to effective salesmanship is a proficiency in the basic ‘people skills’, which underlie and support the techniques of good salesmanship, such as, communication skills and the ability to garner agreements.

Salesmanship is just as primitive today as it was 100 years ago. It works, but no one seems to understand quite how and why. In contrast to the advances of modern industry in such areas as automation, electronics, chemistry, and physics, selling as an art and science has made little or no progress since the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Today as then, ‘representatives’ attempt by various occult devices to persuade others to buy and use their wares. In terms of the methods employed, the salesman of today is essentially no better qualified, in my judgment, than the ‘peddlers’ of yesteryear.

Although, merchandising methods have improved with the advent of technology, and advertising has taken advantage of motivation research. Consumer sales have been made much easier because of the availability of consumer credit. Training in selling skills, methods, and techniques is much more sophisticated and widespread, today. However, salesmanship is pattern of behaviors. It’s oversimplification to suggest that knowing the ‘selling system’ itself, will make you successful at sales. It’s sad to say that many people have followed ‘the system’ to the letter, only to fail miserably at selling.

This happens because selling systems fail to get to the heart of salesmanship. Salesmanship depends upon interpersonal behavior, which relies upon attitudes, assumptions, knowledge, and conduct, but not formulations. Perhaps one of the greatest myths is the idea that good salesmanship is born not made. Many still believe the old idea that if you have got the gift of the gab and can talk to anyone at any level, then you could probably sell anything to anyone; e.g., refrigerators to Eskimos. Unfortunately in the modern world, and especially in business-to-business selling, these factors are merely the raw materials for developing effective salesmanship…

Salesmanship, too, is an art; the perfection of its technique requires study and practice. ~James Cash (JC) Penney