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I am a well known fat guy. You're probably thinking "How is that relevant?" or "Why does that matter?" Well in a perfect world, it wouldn't, but it is human nature to judge, to make assumptions based on a snap impression. So no matter how distasteful, no matter how proud you are of your enlightened and modern mentality, it's a good bet that, at least on a subconscious level, you let things like someone's body shape impact how you treat them.
As a fat guy who has spent many years in direct sales and now as a small business owner, you learn very quickly that you are at a disadvantage. I worked in a wireless store in my early twenties. My station was right next to that of a good friend of mine who was very intelligent, dignified, capable and confident. She also, coincidentally, was a skinny blonde with a large chest. If a customer came in and we were both available to help, they would almost always go right to her. She even told me once that if she was about to close a big sale but it wasn't getting done, she would unbutton a few buttons on her shirt and lean over the counter exposing lots of cleavage. She said it worked every time. This isn't to say she wasn't good at her job because she was. She just was using a natural advantage. I promise you as the fat guy, if I had tried the same thing, I'd probably have gotten arrested.
As someone who always was starting a step behind, here are my seven things you should know about sales- from the fat guy.
- Assume you are not the first choice. In order to know where you are headed, you first have to know where you're starting. If the distance you have to run is longer, then you have to start the race sooner and run faster.
- Don't expect business to come to you. You have to go to the business. Initiative is your best friend. Find a way to take what you have to offer to your customers to places they wouldn't expect. Sponsoring an event or taking cell phones to sell at 3am to people in line on Black Friday come to mind.
- Build customer loyalty. Wow the customers you do get so they come back to you and ONLY you! There is no feeling like having three or four people happily waiting on you as your co-workers sit twiddling their thumbs.
- Utilize the talents and natural advantages you do have. If you're funny, make your customers laugh. If you're good with kids, keep some coloring pages and crayons handy for parents with over tired munchkins. Find a way to incorporate your personality into the process.
- Always follow through. So many sales professionals are terrible at follow up and customer service. If you keep close tabs on your customer's needs and play the long game, you create lifetime customers. All it takes is a little time, care and of course... doing what you say you'll do.
- Flexibility is key. Don't be afraid to learn new tricks and skills from those around you. In order to be the best, you have to learn from the best. This DOES NOT mean to not be yourself, simply that you are never so good that you can't learn from others.
- Be authentic! Customers are spending their hard earned money on whatever it is you're selling and they can smell it when you aren't being yourself. We all have insecurities and set backs, but don't let those things creep in and make you act like someone you're not.