“Now 11 remain to fight for the chance to become the Apprentice.” So began this week’s episode of the hit TV show which was primarily about selling and was packed to the rafters with sales training tips for the sales superstar in waiting.
This week’s task for our “wannabees” was to dabble in the art market selling photography. After picking 2 potential photographers each our heroes were to see who could make the most profit from art sales in one day. SAS was on top form declaring this to be “a special kind of salesmanship” where one cannot talk people into buying but where our team had to “smell” when a potential customer was on the hook!
They all had very different ways of approaching this task…
The two teams, led by Christina, the pharmaceutical sales manager, and Natalie, who has an MBA, split up and set about the task of speaking to the photographers. They all had very different ways of approaching this task. Katie preferred to find out all about the photographers, their desires wants and needs. Adam on the other hand got down to figures fast! Katie was, as usual, unimpressed, declaring to the camera that this was not a car lot and that if Adam went back to one and got run over that would be ok by her!
“If we pick you, do we have your commitment?”
Under Nat, Katie pushed their team down a very “softly-softly” route. Christina meanwhile was getting business like with Tim, a horse photographer. Who is your typical buyer? Have you a client list? Great questions. She even tried a commitment close, “If we pick you, do we have your commitment?” Nice.
Because of the nature of the competition this task was a double-edged sword. Not only did the teams have to sell photographs but they also had to “sell” the photographers on the idea of working with their team.
Not happy with totally blowing the deal she decided to alienate her client even more…
The first big sales training lesson of the night came from Natalie when her team visited Tim, the horse photographer. She walked through the door announcing, “We have 10 minutes”. If you were the client how would that make you feel? What would you be thinking? I know that I would be annoyed and thinking, “So I’m a last resort am I? You don’t value me or my work. Thanks!” As if that weren’t bad enough Nat’s phone then rang. “Excuse me I have to take this” she said, turning her back on her prospect and walking off. That… just lost you that photographer Nat. There’s no come back from there. Not happy with totally blowing the deal she decided to alienate her prospect even more, “Tim, I hate to cut in. We must go.”
Sales training advice: No matter how important you think you or your business is you cannot behave in this way and expect to get away with it. When you are with your clients you need to be with your clients 100%. No distractions. No interruptions. Be honest – are you totally focused when you are with your clients?
Back to the show, both teams picked the same two photographers – Tim and another called Elizabeth. Not surprisingly after Nat’s offhandedness, Tim said that he was more convinced by the leadership of Christina’s team.
Artists on board, the teams set about drumming up business. Despite the moans about his lack of work ethic Adam was on the phone calling past clients of one of their artists whilst the rest… hung paintings. Nat described Adam as “our weakest link.” Some nerve given he was the man on the phone!
Which brings us to the sales training lesson of this week’s show…
You must always sell!
In an attempt to get away from the “hard sell” many, many salespeople and business people go too far the other way and don’t sell at all. Katie and Nat both fell into this trap. At the top of the show Katie said that selling art was all about “integrity“. Hmmm! So other goods don’t require integrity then Katie?
Of course they do. All selling is about integrity but having integrity does not mean that you cannot ask for the deal! You just can’t sell Katie!
If you want to find excuses to go easy and not progress the sale you will always find them. At one point or another salespeople from virtually every industry have said to me things like, “Our industry is different. You have to take it really carefully here. My clients don’t like being pushed”. They then proceed to fluff around, make friends and sell nothing.
Poor old Adam who understood that he had to sell was called a “catastrophe“! Elizabeth (one of the artists) and Hugh (her husband) said it should be soft sell. Well of course they did! Most artists say that. That’s why they have other people selling their work for them. Doh!
As everybody was selling Katie muttered that her style was, “So soft I’m wondering if it’s too soft!” You think?! Her follow up classic,”I just don’t know how to make it harder!”
Sales training tip: Making friends is not the same as making sales. Whether you’re selling a car, a house or a painting or an IT system makes no odds. If your prospect isn’t going to buy you need to move on. Get over it. Tire kickers don’t just kick tires, they kick paintings too! They also kick IT systems, software, houses, telecoms systems, consultancy…
Christina’s team, meanwhile were in full on selling mode closing clients to buy paintings. The results produced an obvious win for Christina’s team selling 14 paintings for £4702 profit as compared to Nat’s 7 for £1599.
Had Nat an ounce of business savvy she would have dragged Katie back to the board room. She’d have probably still gone but she could have argued that Katie was in awe of the photographer and that her sales efforts were misguided and weak. The girls at the moment, however, are gunning for the blokes in the boardroom and she brought back Lohit and Adam. Lohit because … well… I dunno, certainly she didn’t seem to and Adam because she basically didn’t like his approach. Given he made the cold calls, sold some paintings (she didn’t) and was the only one who seemed to “get it”, it was no great shock when SAS said to Katie “You’re out of your depth with regret you’re fired.”
Lohit summed it up, “At the end of the day we didn’t make enough sales”.
You don’t say!