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From Pacific Business News
Don't gamble on losing opportunities for big profit

By Ron Martin

Professionals do their job even when they don't feel like it. Professional athletes do. Secretaries, carpenters, actors, musicians and all kinds of professionals do.

Salespeople are professionals too. Every customer deserves the highest level of service possible. Every customer deserves, and should get, your best approach, regardless of your mood. Professionalism will make your success easy.

Decide what your behavior will be before your customer walks into the store. By doing so, you create a system for selling that eliminates the stress created by poor decision making. It allows you to learn and follow the proper mood.

Las Vegas casinos, for instance, use a system that allows the dealers to win for them. The dealers aren't professional gamblers, yet they consistently win for the casino. Everyone goes to Las Vegas hoping to win; the casino will win. The difference is a system. Gamblers let their feelings and their judgments determine their behavior. The casino uses a system. All dealers must follow that system or lose their jobs.

In blackjack, it works like this: The dealers give you an apparent advantage. They show you one of their cards, but you don't have to reveal either of yours. You also have the advantage of watching fellow gamblers take another card. You count the cards and calculate the odds. Your feelings control your decision. You feel lucky. You follow your hunches.

In addition, the dealers must "stand" on 17 regardless of the other cards showing on the table. In fact, they tell you their system, and they still win. A sign on the table reads: "Dealer must stand on 17." Players think that gives them an advantage. They can take another card and the dealer can't. They can use judgment the dealer can't. But it's their own judgment that defeats them. The dealers' system assures the casino's victory.

The house wins. It doesn't have to win every hand because it wins every day. If the casino won every hand, no one would play. It wins every day because the dealers are trained to follow a system that is designed to win.

Experienced gamblers go into a room away from the emotion of gambling and calculate the odds. They calculate in advance that in the long run it will not pay to take another card when you have 17 or more. The casino doesn't allow its dealers to make that mistake.

Professional salespeople do something similar. They know they can't make every sale. Instead, they employ a system that will work enough of the time that they will make more sales every day. They use the system whether or not it feels right on a particular day.

Don't make the mistake of making decisions in the "heat of battle." If you wait until your customer walks into your store, and allow your judgment and feelings to influence your behavior, you will lose and so will your customer. Your feelings change from day to day; your performance shouldn't. Some days you feel good and it's easy to do well.

On days that you feel sick or tired it's more difficult to do things right. Your customer should not have to bear the brunt of your feelings. Your judgment might fail you too. If you let what you think about your customer determine how you act, then you may not act at all.

Athletes put on their "game face." Gamblers put on their "poker face." Customers put on their "shopping face." If you let that "face" affect your behavior, you might ignore your customer and you'll both lose.

How do you choose a system that works? Start by greeting all customers in a sincere and friendly manner, whether they have on their "shopping face" or not. Do your job whether you feel good or not. Institutionalize success ... it's easy.

Successful selling happens in three stages and should occur in this order:

1. Establish communication.

2. Give information.

3. Assist in the buying decision.

I was retained by a major Waikiki hotel to improve sales in its retail stores. To prepare for my first meeting with the store owners and employees, I went shopping in the hotel as a "mystery shopper."

As part of my research, I walked into a beautiful jewelry store. I observed a professional-looking female employee sitting behind the counter. She looked up at me expressionless, said nothing, then looked back down.

I put on my "shopping face" and began browsing. I peered into the sparkling showcase and saw a huge inventory of very expensive jewelry. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the saleswoman silently checking me out. I was not sure if she was waiting for an opportunity to speak, or just making sure I wasn't stealing. I "cruised" the store for five or six minutes in total silence. Is that a long time to be ignored? It sure is. Try holding your breath for that long.

As I left the store, the saleswoman's dull voice hit me in the back of my head. She said, "Are you sure you don't want to buy a gift or something?" I turned around and answered, "No thank you. I was just looking." She looked away, and I walked away.

Consider the three stages of a sale. She started at stage three. She attempted to assist me in my buying decision without establishing communication or giving me any information.

Perhaps it was my fault. I had my "shopping face" on. If I had been friendlier and asked some questions, she might have done a better job. Instead, she fizzled. I left the store wondering where she learned her misguided approach. Why didn't she just let me leave the store as quietly as I had entered? The probable answer can be summed up in one word: guilt. She wanted to feel as though she had tried.

Remember, your customer has more to gain from the purchase than you do, regardless of the cost of the product or how large your commission is. The product will last your customer longer than the money will last you or your store. There may be a big commission in selling a Rolls Royce, but the buyer will be driving and enjoying the car long after the salesperson and car dealer have spent their commissions.

A selling system will work for you, even when you don't feel like working for yourself. It's easy!

Ron Martin is the owner of consulting firm Success Dynamics and the author of several books.

 Success Dynamics, Inc © 2006