Last week I made a visit to my neighborhood mobile phone carrier’s retail store and noticed a ‘No Solicitors’ sign in the window. This gave me pause before entering. I thought – “I’m a Solicitor, what’s wrong with me. Why don’t they want me to come in?”
I peered through the glass like a school boy at a peep show, wondering what is going on inside that I was forbidden to see. Others inside the store began to look at me and I finally mustered up the guts to pull the door open and walk in.
I stopped as everyone looked at me and said, “I saw the No Solicitors sign. I’m a salesman. I sell for a living. What do you folks do behind the counter? Are you salespeople? Can I come in?”
I was greeted and welcomed to come in. I started the conversation with the retail store associate (not a salesperson, per their business card), by asking if the door they come in has that ‘No Solicitors’ sign displayed? They said “yes, same door.” I asked, “Are you supposed to be selling anything?” They repeated “yes.” “Have you ever been written up by HR for violating the sign?” I asked. They quickly regretted inviting me in.
You may say, “Oh, Scott, you know what that sign means. They don’t want people coming into the store trying to sell them anything like advertising in a local newspaper, or a girl scout with her father selling cookies or boy scout with his mother selling wreaths.” Really? They don’t want to have a conversation with an on-the-go, busy salesperson that needs their service – more than any other career. They don’t want to talk with a parent that lives in the area that will shortly need a family plan to meet their family’s mobile needs.
Instead they want to prevent the conversation from starting by throwing a shaming and humiliating punch at a career salesperson. Those are my people! And I will fight for their honor.
I noticed there was no sign banning guns on the premises. They will tolerant you bringing in your handgun, but you cannot be admitted if you are a salesperson. In a time of promoting social tolerance, a career in sales is unwelcome. The reality is nothing ever happens until a salesperson sells something.
Years ago a local printer called and invited me to meet to discuss working with their sales team to improve sales revenue. When I arrived, I walked pass the ‘No Soliciting’ sign displayed on the door.
When I mentioned my concern about the impact that sign has on salespeople, they took it down and sales began to increase. The company culture needs to change in order for the behaviors to change. Sales focused companies should embrace the persistence of a salesperson and work to recruit more of them. And yes, they also hired me.
Sometimes I walk into a business that has the ‘No Soliciting’ sign posted with a hurried demeanor I say, “I came as soon as I saw the sign. Nobody is selling anything. Who should I talk to? Is the president of the company available? Pardon me, while I call this into to dispatch. Code 4, on location at XYZ company. No need for backup at this point.”
My next move is to go door-to-door selling ‘No Soliciting’ signs and if they don’t buy one, come back the next day and say, “If you had a sign, I wouldn’t be bothering you.” Just kidding. I would never do that.
Sales needs to be adopted, adapted and embraced across the corporate culture AND in our personal lives, as we work to communicate, persuade and convince others to grow and change – no matter our role. Sales is not limited to just the sales department, just like Customer Service is not limited to just their department.
Remember our beliefs determine our behavior, and our behavior, through action, gives us the results we want. The belief is “to sell is to serve,” and to serve means we help others to experience a better life.
(Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting or even implying you not shop at a store that has the No Soliciting or No Solicitors sign displayed. Please patronize them. You also have the chance to start a conversation with someone you are trying to sell.)