Success Story: 7 Hints From One Of The UK's Top Saleswomen

Jan 28 2014, 7:10am CST | by

Success Story: 7 Hints From One Of The UK's Top Saleswomen

Judy Naaké, one of the UK’s top saleswomen, built the St Tropez self-tan market in Britain from zero in 1995 to a business worth £70 million in little over a decade, before selling it to venture capitalists. The success of the company was down to Naaké’s engaging personality, high-octane work ethic – and the expertise in sales that she has honed ever since she began helping out in her father’s business as a child. Naaké first sold St Tropez out of the boot of her car – but after talking to her for five minutes, you realise she could probably sell anything, from anywhere, to anyone.

So: what are her tips for sales success? Communication is one of the keys …

You can’t do business with people you don’t know

“St Tropez was a product offered to me alongside many others. I wasn’t initially interested as I had other fake tans but this one had aloe vera in it so I said I’d have a look at it. I went home, slapped it on, and straightaway I could see the point of difference. It was a natural product and it was brown – you could see where you were putting it! At the time, beauty therapists were terrified of doing tans – if you missed a bit, it was hard to patch up, but I even dared to put St Tropez on my face. I flew to LA that very weekend to eyeball the people who were making it – I couldn’t do business with people I didn’t know. It might be all right to use phone and email until a competitor walks through the door, shakes their hand and bonds with them. Business is all about relationships – the handshake, the twinkle in the eye, the electricity. And first instincts are always right. How often have you been let down, and thought ‘Damn, I knew that was going to happen’? – you can’t get that first impression over a phone line.”

Live and breathe your product

“Building a brand and making it strong is a slow process. You’ve got to have the right product or service, you’ve got to love it, and you have to live and breathe it, or how can you sell it? You have to be able to look people in the eye and be honest. It’s also got to be the right time. And you also have to have fun. It’s no good going into business just to make money: your love and enthusiasm has to show through to everyone you’re talking to. People have to trust you. I used to sell Decléor, Darphin and Australian Bodycare, and people knew that, if I said something was good – it was good. I had a solid base of clients who trusted me and I couldn’t let them down. When you’re selling, it’s not about what’s in the deal for you, it’s what’s in the deal for your client that clinches it – and that’s something people don’t seem to realise.”

Don’t underestimate the power of meeting face to face

Research by Crowne Plaza shows how important meetings are. If you don’t have the face-to-face handshake and the smile, people lose deals: 24% of them. It’s true that sometimes it’s just not worth it to schlep from the other end of the country – or the world – to see someone and the phone is actually very good: you can catch the intonation in a way that you can’t with email, and you can keep going a long time on phone calls. But some people will text and email without ever picking up the phone. If I say to you ‘What would you like? What would make you happy?’ the intonation can be entirely different over the phone than you might imagine from an email. Another thing about meeting clients face to face is that you don’t get so much bad debt; once they know you, they don’t want to let you down.”

Be available

“Even when the business got big, my clients could always get me if they had a problem. One mistake I did make was sectioning off my office, which took me out of the main office. You have private calls to make, of course, but it’s surprising what you miss if you’re segregated. And you only get to hear the problems, not the good stuff!”

Talent and graft count as much as certificates

“I left school at 15 with no qualifications at all. When I started as a sales agent, I got 10% of what I sold and if I sold nothing, I got nothing. That focuses the mind! When I got really successful I had the feeling I wasn’t really a proper businesswoman as I didn’t have all the qualifications. We took on some advisors to show us how it should be done. After several meetings, at very great cost, they said ‘We think you’ve got a great business, we’d love to buy in’!”

Sell yourself as well as your product

“When I was calling on beauty salons, if I went in a black business suit, I would look a bit aggressive in the pale surroundings. I had my biggest successes in a long, white parachute silk mac. I looked as though I belonged in the area and I wasn’t threatening. I would always say ‘I have this new product, I would like your opinion, if you have a moment’ – people never say no if you ask for their opinion. I was always well groomed and it surprises me the way some people don’t bother these days. A lot of people now wear jeans for business: I wouldn’t dream of it and if someone was coming to sell to me in jeans it would have a bearing on my opinion of them. It’s a question of respect. It tells you a lot about the person if they make an effort to present themselves well.”

Smile

“To smile is everything. Say hello – people are disarmed. I always say hello when I walk into a meeting. If you smile, you’ve got them straight away. It looks as though you care – and, of course, you do.”

Like Judy Naaké, British heritage clothing retailer Jeremy Hackett believes passionately in his brand

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

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