By Gene Fresco
Did you know that there is a merit badge for Salesmanship in the Boy Scouts of America?
It was established in 1927.
Do you think you would qualify for a Salesmanship Merit Badge?
Here are some of the requirements to earn this badge. Let’s see how you do.
1. Explain the responsibilities of a salesman, and how a salesman serves customers and helps stimulate the economy.
2. Explain why it is important for a salesman to do the following:
a. Research the market to be sure the product or service meets the needs of the customers.
b. Learn all about the product or service to be sold.
c. If possible, visit the location where the product is built and learn how it is constructed. If a service is being sold, learn about the benefits of the service to the customer.
d. Follow up with customers after their purchase to confirm their satisfaction and discuss their concerns about the product or service.
Here are some additional aspects of the requirements to get a BSA Salesmanship Merit Badge that I think apply to salespeople in the music industry.
3. Write and present a sales plan for a product or service.
4. Make a sales presentation on a product or service assigned by your counselor.
5. Interview a person and learn the following:
a. What made the person choose sales as a profession?
b. What are the most important things to remember when talking to customers?
c. How is the product or service sold?
Now, of course, these questions are designed to qualify Boy Scouts for a merit badge. I apologize for using only male designations, but Boy Scouts are only males. These requirements in the real world are for men and women in sales positions.
I believe that the BSA offering a Salesmanship Merit Badge elevates the profession of sales and salespeople.
You need to take this test yourself and see how much you know about the profession you have chosen.
I haven’t written about role-playing in learning how to sell in my previous articles, but it is important in enabling you to grow as a professional salesperson.
In every industry I have worked in as a sales professional, I was required to role-play to show my ability in salesmanship: every industry, that is, except the music industry.
I guess we are just too hip to participate in such nonsense.
Role-playing gives you the opportunity to make mistakes that could happen in a real sales presentation and gives you the ability to correct that mistake with no monetary loss.
When developing a sales presentation for a certain product, role-playing gives you the ability to make it as perfect as it can be, with the help of your coworkers.
Seeing how thorough BSA is in awarding a Salesmanship Merit Badge has made me realize how wishy-washy we are in learning our profession to the fullest.
When I was National Sales Manager for Sunn Electronics, I was traveling with a rep on the West Coast and I noticed how open-minded he was to extolling the benefits of some of our competitors. I have never said a bad word about my competition, especially if a dealer had a store full of it. But, I never went out of my way to praise my competition or suggest that they were better than the product I was selling.
After a couple of visits, I finally had to say something to the rep. I asked him to stop in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, which he thought was crazy. (Looking back now, it was.)
I said, “Bill, do you want to show people how hip you are, or do you want to make money?”
This problem is prevalent in the music industry.
Oh, by the way, Bill answered, “I want to make money.”
I have seen this happen in music stores all the time. Salespeople have their favorite products and they walk around everything else and go straight to their favorites.
Or, unfortunately, they want to show the customers how hip they are.
What is the result of this? One brand keeps flying out the door, whereas others sit there and rot.
Do what a professional salesperson should do: Ask qualifying questions and recommend the product that will solve the customer’s problem. Keep your personal preferences to yourself.
Of course, there are numerous ways to solve a customer’s problem, and there are many products with which to solve it. But, I would say, if two different products will give the customer the results he or she wants, then offer that customer the solution that will help the company you work for and give the customer a good deal. That’s what we call a “win/win” situation.
I checked to see if the Girl Scouts have a Salesmanship Merit Badge. They don’t, but they do have a merit badge called “The Cookie Connection.” Hmmm…. I just read in my newspaper today that a Girl Scout sold more than 3,200 boxes of cookies. That’s salesmanship to me!
I am sorry I missed the NAMM show this year.
I guess I will have to settle for the 75 shows that I have been to. I hear attendance was great and there was an optimistic feeling in the air.
Maybe I will make the summer show.
Please try role-playing in your sales meetings. It will make your sales presentations so much more polished, and you will truly know what you are talking about. And, your customer will have more confidence in your ability to solve his or her problem.
Let’s have a great 2012. Thank God we will always need music in our lives; it makes life worth living.
I wish you good selling.
By Gene Fresco