Does Salesmanship mean how to use your soft skills in marketing or Soft skills in Marketing means Salesmanship................
are you hearing a buzz................


By

Vishwas Kumar Gupta
Faculty Marketing
INC–HQ, Hyderabad
 


It was Sunday; I was lying on sofa watching my favorite 'Men Mange More' on 'Star One'. Suddenly the door bell alarmed  - I asked my mom to see who was there – Mom replied – tow boys are there from 'Eureka Forbes' & my mom called them specially on Sunday because I usually be available at the home. I forbade Mom to invite them but Mom asked – let come them, they are good boys – I don't know what did Mom see in those boys (perhaps it was her image of marketing person bcoz me too a marketing guy)

– Well Mom invited them in & one of the boys asked for one glass of water to drink. After drinking the water one said the taste of water is somewhat unusual. My mom replied 'Yes' the water of this area is not so good. The boys caught the point & asked again "Yes madam what u thought about our 'Aquaguard'. Now it is turn of mine to be shocked – Later I came to know that this is their third visit to my home. Well interestingly they again explained all from abc to xyz of the product & when I asked, this is Sunday – No money we have – they even asked sir no need of money just use the product & you can give payment after 7 days & since my Mom too were insisting me to purchase it - obviously I have to agree – finally deal has managed.

- After that I have realized who is real marketing person – Me who has purchased a good product with some discount at my home or the person who came to me with a mission having a clear approach & sold it to me when I was not interested in buying it.

Really both the boys gave me a reason to think again what the real tools of marketing now days are. Plenty of people are who no longer have to time to politely listen to a sales call & with so many shopping options available – very few are interested to confined themselves in picking one from two or three options. A cluster of advertisement having a vague idea of a product – increasing purchasing power parity – diminished somewhat the effect of sales promotion.

But still the personal selling & direct marketing has their own importance in today's market. Both of the boys tried to catch the emotional pulse along with the very effective technique of communication. The marketers now days know how to communicate the suspect to convert it into a prospect. It requires only two things - one is time & another is the persuasive skills. They know that the customer have lack of time so now only persuasive skills matters. If 'you can persuade – you can win' is the motto of modern marketing.

The persuasive skills require a Salesmanship approach. Since Salesmanship is nothing but an appropriate combination of Skills that make the communication to a customer effective & efficient. These skills needed to perform jobs, where job requirements are defined in terms of expected outcomes, but the process to achieve the outcomes may vary widely, usually an area of performance that does not have a definite beginning and an end (i.e., counseling, supervising and managing).

Today's competitive job market means that minimum acceptable skills are being replaced with higher standards.  And among the higher standards is what many call "Soft Skills."

    "A soft skill refers to the cluster of personality traits, social graces, facility with language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that mark each of us to varying degrees". Persons who rank high in this cluster, with good soft skills, are generally the people that most employers want to hire.

But really soft skills do so matter -   soft skills complement hard skills, which are the technical requirements of a job. The ideal, of course, is someone strong in both job and personal skills, but as one employer put it in a recent report, Hard Work and Soft Skills, " Don't worry so much about the technical skills. We need you to teach them how to show up on time, how to work in teams, and how to take supervision."

Recruiters like, the outgoing, friendly, well-adjusted candidates more than those with great qualifications but less acceptable soft skills.  And there is no question that personal appearance contributes significantly to a positive reaction.

If you will ask how to classify the soft skills is not so easy to me because what we do for us & for others, throughout a day, is definitely a part of our soft-skills. In my view soft – skills can be classified into three main categories – Personal skills, communication skills & Inter-personal skills.

The Workforce Profile ( www.workforce.com) defined about 60 "soft skills" a salesman should possess. The skills are applicable to any field of work, according to the study, and are the "personal traits and skills that employers state are the most important when selecting employees for jobs of any type."

PERSONAL SKILLS:

1. Courtesy                                            2. Honesty                             3. Confidence
4. Reliability                                            5. Eye contact                       6. Adaptability              
7. Follow rules                                         8. Self-directed                      9. Drivers' license        
10. Dependability                                    11. Self-supervising                 12. Good references     
13. Being drug free                                 14. Good attendance                15. Personal energy
16. Work experience                                17. Personal integrity    
18. Good work history                              19. Personal chemistry
20. Ability to fill out a job application
21. Ability to make production quotas
22. Basic manufacturing skills training
23. Good personal appearance 

COMMUNICATIVE SKILLS:

1. Math            
2. Grammar
3. Flexibility      
4. Cooperation
5. Good attitude
6. Writing skills    
7. Advanced math    
8. Ability to measure  
9. Good common sense 
10. Critical thinking skills
11. Knowledge of fractions
12. Use rulers and calculators
13. Basic spelling and grammar 
14. Reading and comprehension  
15. Awareness of how business works
16. Understanding what the world is all about
17. Ability to listen and document what you heard.
18. Communication skills with public, fellow employees, supervisors,
     And customers

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS:

1. Safety            
2. Team skills
3. Positive work ethic
4. Motivational skills
5. Valuing education
6. Willingness to learn           
7. Coming to work on time             
8. Wanting to do a good job   
9. Ability to follow regulations  
10. Willingness to be accountable  
11. Staying on the job until it is finished
12. Ability to read and follow instructions
13. Willingness to work second and third shifts
14. Caring about seeing the company succeed
15. Commitment to continued training and learning
16. Willingness to take instruction and responsibility
17. Ability to relate to coworkers in a close environment
18. Not expecting to become a supervisor in the first six months
19. Willingness to be a good worker and go beyond the traditional eight-
    Hour day

OTHERS:

Except these 60 traits, I think a salesman must - To stay at the firm, & having Customer – service skills, Customer – oriented approach, Result – Oriented approach, Recognize the appropriate situation, his appearance, approach & his body language play a very vital role in developing a positive image. His language should be simple not a jargon, his gesture – posture (including movement of hands, movement of eye brows), his convenience power, clarity, step by step approach, his depth of knowledge of his product, his enthusiasm (not over), should always smile (?? tricky one), to know the manner of introduction, are the main focus of a character of a salesman.

HOW TO ACQUIRE THESE SKILLS

Not a single trait is inborn. Salesmanship is all but nothing except to
See & learn from your environment 
These environments may be your family, your culture, your relation & even be your colleague:

FAMILY ENVIRONMENT AND SOFT SKILLS

There may be no easy way to train for soft skills; the basics stem from early childhood and the family environment.

To this must be added the ability to sense what is required in different environments and to learn quickly by watching those around you who are the most successful.

SACRIFICE EGO FOR SUCCESS!

It's always hard to comment on deficiencies in soft skills because they are close to the center of one's ego.  When recruiters turn down candidates, they often are unwilling to cite deficiencies in soft skills and may point to something that is off the mark.  A student may say, " I was turned down by XXX Company which says it doesn't hire liberal arts graduates," when I know it isn't true.  To the recruiter it may have been kinder than saying, "We don't want you because you are too sloppy, too nonverbal, or have some other negative trait."  But it didn't do much for the student's appreciation of his or her educational background.

Illustrative Soft Skills

Work ethic:

A motivating belief that employees owe their employer a full day of diligent work including following their supervisor's instructions.

Courtesy:

The habitual use of "please," "thank you," "excuse me," and "may I help you?" in dealing with customers, supervisors, and colleagues.

Teamwork:

The ability to share responsibilities, confer with others, honor commitments, help others do their jobs, and seek help when needed.

Self-discipline and self-confidence:

The ability to arrange one's own tasks for best performance, to learn from experience, to ask questions and correct mistakes, and to absorb criticism and direction without feeling defeated, resentful, or insulted.

Conformity to prevailing norms:

The ability to govern one's dress, grooming, body language, tone of voice, and vocabulary according to the particular culture of the given workplace.

Language proficiency:

The ability to speak, read, and writes Standard English in a businesslike way.  One may have the "hard" skill of knowing what usage is correct and what is incorrect but lack the "soft" skills of knowing when to use only standard forms and in what tone to use them.

Some effective opening statements:

To attain the customer attention a sales person must have some communicative –opener tools like asking questions regarding the customer's knowledge of product or can ask a puzzle, any reference, show the product or making a genuine compliment . Sometimes an unusual way of introduction is to behave in a very rude manner (Not recommended at all) but I want to quote here a very interesting example "there is a story of the sales person who went to a prospect who would never entertain a sales person. Naturally, he was denied a meeting, but this salesperson persisted and waited a week to see him. Finally, the prospect called him and yelled at him demanding why he was waiting, in spite of knowing that he (the prospect) would never see a salesperson. The salesperson replied with a smile "Just to say that you can go straight to hell". After an hour, the salesman returned with a very big order". But this is the Rarest of the rarest case. You should not do the same in market. To be an effective salesman is much better than being the efficient one. It is not an easy task. For this you have to go to the top only through step by step. The first step:

IDENTIFY YOUR SOFT SKILLS: To know yourself is somewhat a typical task. Usually whenever we try to know ourselves, we omit our weaknesses. Yes no one is perfect, each of us has some negative tactics but you should use your weaknesses as your strength. Let you always try to do. Don't compare yourself to others. Each person has its own identity, own characteristics. Never copy any one only study their way of wok. Do you know who is a salesperson? The correct answer is everyone!

We are always presenting (selling) ourselves, our ideas or our opinions in every conversation that we have. A successful salesman is not different to an ordinary salesman except his attitude. Do you know if we assign A, B, C…Z the number 1,2,3,………..26.The word 'LUCK' gives you only 44, 'HARD WORK' gives you 98 while 'ATTITUDE' gives you a complete 100. So my friend just wake up, make your attitude high & look in you mirror & say to yourself , 'I am the Best', 'I can do it'& this world is in your pocket. Soft skills are nothing except your way of perception along with your attitude.

SELLING YOUR SOFT SKILLS:  Once, when you are aware of your soft skills, use them in your selling technique. Make your selling result oriented; always count the result only, not the quantity. Each selling approach is made up of three parts: opening, Body & closing. Each part requires different types of skills support. Each part is Important. If we make an equation O * B * C = Sales, it means if we fail to persuade in any one part, the resultant will be zero
. Always remember, you can never take back your first impression.

A basic rule of salesmanship is that people buy with their emotions, and justify their purchase with logic. Your potential customer is going to have to feel that they are safe (no sense of danger) throughout the sales presentation. Great salespeople follow up every sales lead until the prospect buys or dies. Great salespeople don't give up. They call and call until the prospect answers. They visit, write and follow up until the person says that they bought another product, or they are no longer in the market (they have literally or figuratively died). The older the lead, the lesser the competition. When the lead is six months old, there is a 50% chance that the decision is still pending. At nine months you still have a 25% chance of making the sale

PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF YOUR SOFT SKILLS: The art of salesmanship is a showmanship, characterized by the development of sophisticated and polished presentation skills that almost unfailingly dazzle (but do not always win the business). The art of salesmanship is concealment of salesmanship, characterized by well-prepared, interactive questions that elicit the "right responses" from the customer. The art of salesmanship is the absence of salesmanship, characterized by a quiet, relaxed, well-prepared salesperson as that forgets every aspect of technique and just listens and reacts in "real time." Even a brand new salesperson will be able to close 1 out of 10 sales presentations." Establishing the need Showing the potential customer the features and benefits of your system, and making sure that they understand these points. Turn your new customer into a sales representative. Continuing the relationship with your customer. That is dependant on their relationship with you, and how they feel about you and your company. If you need to make 4 sales a month, and you close 2 out of 10 people that you present to, and you need to talk to 5 people to find one that you can present to, it works like this: 100 people talked to = 20 presentations = 4 sales. Do the math! And just go out and do it!

Reference:

Basic Salesmanship by Robert M. Johnson, CH-1 - President of CSSS, Inc

Sales & Distribution Management Text Book by ICFAI National College

Importance of Soft skills notes by ICFAI National College

www.workforce.com
 


Vishwas Kumar Gupta
Faculty Marketing
INC–HQ, Hyderabad
 

Source: E-mail February 15, 2007

       

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