Saturday, February 25, 2012

About the Word "Sales"

How cool is this? I have my own author page at amazon!  Here is the link:

You may or may not have gleaned that I come from a sales background. My ancestors were "in trade," that is, they were business-people. On both my mother's and father's side of the family, those who worked did so in the field of sales, mainly wholesale. My mother's ancestors came from Bavaria and made their mark in California, and later, in the Washington Territory and Seattle, provisioning gold miners who were bound for the Klondike. The famous ship Portland, carrying the "ton of gold" from the Klondike to Seattle docked at Schwabacher Wharf, which belonged to her family (it's now Seattle's Waterfront Park).

When I was growing up, my father founded his own wholesale company, and he trained all of us to work with him. I began working in trade shows when I was 14 years old. Have you ever been to a trade show?

Most people who attend these shows go as potential consumers - that is, to find out about products, such as boats, automobiles or home improvement products. They gather information, pick up flyers or free samples and walk around the various booths. There are wholesale shows for buyers who purchase for groups of stores, and retail shows, for the general public. I have worked in both, standing on a concrete floor in business attire (read: high heeled shoes) for long days. Our products were in the home-improvement area, which did not interest me AT ALL at the time. So I had to learn how to discuss something that wasn't particularly interesting to me (but that I knew had value for others), with strangers of all sorts.

The job was to first get their attention as they walked by, ask if I they had any questions, how their day was going, find out what they were looking for (why had they come to the show), and then share whatever information might be helpful and of interest to them. It taught me to engage with anyone and everyone, on a variety of topics, even when I was tired, when my feet hurt, and to talk about products which I knew were useful and of high quality, but which held no personal excitement for me.

I recently met someone who mentioned that part of her job involved working in trade shows. I asked, "Oh, are you in sales?" to which she answered, "No, marketing." That stopped me for a moment. (What's the difference? Is sales is a bad word?) She went on to say that they do some interesting market "targeting" in their trade shows, and that there is now an entire field of study in marketing psychology. That was  bit of a surprise, to me. In my experience, if you care about your customer, find out what they need and want, and seek to honestly present what you know is a great product, no psychology would be necessary. You do your honest best and trust the customer's judgment.

My father taught us to care for our customers and apply the Golden Rule in sales. "Sales" to him meant knowing your product and your client, making the best presentation you could, innovating in advertising, putting together a customized package, sharing relevant information and then following up with the most generous service possible. He actually prayed for his clients, that they would be guided to do the right thing for their business, whether it meant a sale for him, or no sale at all. I think that his customers felt his genuine concern that their business would be blessed. And he was very successful in his work, providing well for his customers and his family at the same time. I'm proud to have been taught the business of sales by this man of integrity and caring.

I am now learning about sales in this new world of eCommerce, eStores, and so on. Having a facebook page, an author's page, guest-posting and giving books away on blogs (more of that to come in March) is a new way to share information in the hope that the client (reader) will be led to buy my product if it is the right thing to bless him (or her). I hope it will bless you, and that you'll let me know by leaving a comment here or on facebook.

The link below is an ad which I just purchased from an online designer. It will take you directly to the "Because of Katie" amazon page. It's all part of the new way of advertising and getting the word out. I would be delighted to see it around the blogisphere, so if any of you bloggers would like to put the ad on your site, please let me know!


Elizabeth said...

Sign me up! I'd love to include the ad on my blog.

I loved this mini-lesson in sales and business, love even more that you've invested grace into your business dealings -- if every business and businessperson were like you, I can't imagine what a changed world it would be!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Sales, marketing...I think they are one in the same too.
I would love to put the ad on my blog...if I can figure it out. Of course, you are the only person I would ever do that for!! I've still not finished the book...dang distractions! (Downton Abbey!)