I’m in gang! a gang of salespeople. Being in sales is often a lonely game; lonesome ol’ you, going head-to-head, mano-a-mano with your accounts looking for that sweet “Yes, I’ll buy from you.”
But the truth is, most salespeople are not alone — we usually belong to a team, a group of like-minded people willing to risk frequent and brutal rejection in pursuit of sales Nirvana. Our gang bands together in search of profit and protection from others who want to take sales away from us. Not all of us are the same, but we enjoy associating with each other; bonding comes easy among us. Our issues and challenges are usually the same.
Oftentimes, one of us has an idea that can help someone in the gang overcome a new problem. Our elders are quick to share their experiences, and our newly initiated are in awe of the sales we veterans still churn. When we act as a group, the opposition feels the pain.
Like all great gangs, our members have code names, and while our names might seem ominous and savage, they are more often a reflection of our one truly unifying characteristic: our sense of humor. Yes, we have a deeply rooted desire to have fun while trying to sell as many auto parts as we can.
I’m proud to say I run with the likes of “Assassin,” “Reaper,” “Don Pancho,” “Peach Pie,” “Boss Burns” (release the hounds!), “RonJay,” “Ricky Ricárdo” (my closest ally) and “Dill Pickle.” Before we go any further, I do want to change my tune about something: you should know that all of these nicknames are real. Well, slightly real.
None of the facts have been changed, and we don’t really care to protect the innocent. Once a year, our gang is summoned to our central lair in an all-points pilgrimage to celebrate our achievements, compare strategies and get pumped up for another year out on the streets. One of our favorite activities at this gathering is a silly little tradition called “story time.”
Guys step into the limelight, in front of the gang, to share a sales story from the previous year. To shine in front of your peers is a thing of beauty and this year “Dill Pickle” really got to me with his story. This year, life handed Dill the biblical role of the prodigal son: the salesman who became an installer for a little while and then came back to sales. With real stories from the other side of the sales divide, Dill captured my attention from the moment he started swaying while talking in front of the group.
You see, Dill sways while he talks, and I would not have it any other way. As one of our gang, Dill learned to leverage the tech tools we had developed for our sales team over the years — tools that gave him access to a myriad of information he could instantly access via his own connected device, be it a smartphone, tablet or laptop. As a repair shop owner, Dill soon got frustrated with salespeople who were unable to handle his issues right on the spot because they lacked access to the needed information.
Simple stuff like getting a copy of an old invoice, or verifying price and availability, was something many of the new salespeople he met could not do on their devices. Their only option was to reach out to their corporate HQ via telephone or email and wait for a response back, wasting Dill’s precious time — a big sales no-no. Access to information has become a key differentiator for salespeople.
Customers are looking for ways to minimize issues and streamline processes; without on-demand access to information, they just can’t get there. Salespeople need to embrace the tech tools at their disposal and demand better systems from their companies, suppliers and manufacturers to ensure their gang plays for keeps and beats all others in this ever-changing auto parts turf war.
One more word on my buddy Dill: I asked him to share more details about his story time for this column. He sent me a great email, chock full of details about his experience. In true techie fashion, he closed his email with this most appropriate remark: “Btw, this entire email was typed on that little device I keep in my pocket… Best regards, Dill”