Amanda is a comedy writer. The articles she writes here are meant to be fun, only somewhat information and completely funny. As with anything in life, don't take them too seriously.
Clark Furlong of Lincoln, MA has been in sales since he was just six years old and selling used golf balls at Cherry Ponds Golf Course in Hyde Park. Now 56 and in Pharmaceutical Sales, he prides himself on years of perfecting his sales techniques.
During a conversation in the line at a local coffee shop, Mr. Furlong decided to share his “expertise” even though we didn't ask for it. In fact, more than a few times we were thinking, Why is this man still talking to us? Frankly, we would have been happy ordering our latte and cheat-day confetti cake pop and simply going on with our day.
But Mr. Furlong is a loud, boisterous man and impossible to ignore so we decided to take our headphones off and actually listen to him; smiling and nodding wasn't getting us anywhere.
Before heading out to his 2016 Mercedes, he asked for an extra cup to insulate his extra hot, extra foam, extra Venti cappuccino and gave us his best advice on ways to avoid the biggest and most common sales blunders. The following are tokens of wisdom we gathered.
1. Talking Too Much (Ironically, he began with this one). “Sure, you love the product and singing its praises comes easily to you, but if you're talking more than a tween girl at a One Direction concert, you're not going to get anywhere. You can't sell if you're talking instead of listening. No matter who your customers are, listen to them so you can identify and fill their needs.”
2. Overselling “If you make your customer feel like they are wearing a wet wool sweater they won’t buy anything. Don’t suffocate your customer.”
3. Not Doing Your Homework “If you don’t get your homework done you’ll fail the pop quiz and recess will be cancelled. You’ve got to know what you’re selling so you can answer the questions customers throw at you. And these customers can be nuts.”
4. Not Closing “To be honest this shouldn’t even be a blunder, but you’d be surprised how many people can’t close. Coffee is for closers. If you can’t close a sale, order the hot chocolate and put it in your sippy cup."
5. Judging the Book By The Cover “Treat everyone like a customer regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, gender or appearance. Build a relationship with them even if they remind you of your in-laws.”
6. Forgetting to FU “FU! FU! FU! If the person doesn’t buy right away you have to tell yourself FU!” We think he means Follow up. We hope so anyway.
7. Keep Your Fishing Pole In the Water “Even when sales are great and everyone is buying your golf balls, still devote time to washing your balls and preparing for new customers. Your company will not survive without a constant influx of new customers. Prospect even when you don’t want to.”
Regardless of skill level, industry or product, even the best salespeople make mistakes. But make too many and you’re bound to be micromanaged, or as most people call it, The Boss Making Life a Living Hell. And no one ever says, “I do my best work when I’m micro-managed.”
Amanda regularly writes for Comedy Central and the Onion. The articles she writes here are meant to be fun, only somewhat information and completely funny. As with anything in life, don't take them too seriously.