Fetch More Dollars: Selling is Helping
The first step toward self-improvement is self-motivation, says John D. Visconti
elf-improvement requires motivation. It is no different than dog training: no motivation = no training. Unfortunately, many trainers feel that a column about sales is about as inspirational as a column about colonoscopies. And even though the sales process is critical to the health of any training business and, in turn, the life quality of dogs and their owners, trainers often avoid it like the proverbial plague. I get the distinct sense that many trainers feel about sales as Woody Allen noted about death: “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Let’s just say that the process of selling has not captured the hearts of many dog trainers. It is my belief that several misconceptions about selling are rooted in fear of rejection and that trainers often look for justification for avoiding the sales process. These justifications come in the form of misconceptions about methods utilized in the sales process; negative beliefs about the character traits of salespeople; using one’s experience with unscrupulous con artists (con artists are not professional salespeople) as proof that salespeople are dishonest; a belief that the ability to sell is innate and cannot be learned; and that in this day and age of websites and social media, the need for proactive selling is passé. Sadly, when you avoid selling, you limit your ability to achieve your dreams of enriching the lives of dogs and their owners. The way I figure, the only thing standing between us and greatness is, well, us. So, with that in mind, let’s knock down a few walls. When I lecture, I always ask my audience: “How many of you have a positive association with the word ‘selling’?” My hunch is that I would get the same response if I asked: “How many of you have a positive association with the words ‘root canal’?” Then I ask, “How many of you have a positive association with the words ‘dog training’?” A sea of hands are raised. Side by side, I then show pictures of a smarmy looking used car salesman and a trainer using a shock collar and I ask why they made a distinction between the two. Why did they identify one profession as negative and the other as positive? Is there not just as high a percentage of incompetent, unethical individuals in each field?
Perhaps the root for the -CER towards the sales process can be found in how the average person defines a salesperson. We are all aware of dog trainers who are incompetent, unprofessional, uninformed and, in some cases, lacking in ethics. However, we do not broadly brush the entire profession negatively because of the actions of the lowest common denominator. Instead, our association with the words ‘dog training’ remains positive. We continue to train and see what we do, justifiably, as being of great value. In fact, those ‘bad’ trainers often inspire us to be even better trainers than we already are. Similarly, I invite you to be motivated as a salesperson in part because of those who are utilizing less than ethical sales methods. You can choose to be whatever type of salesperson you desire to be. As noted by Maya Angelou, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by © Can Stock Photo them.” Perhaps, just as owners are often required to change a cue word once it has been poisoned, we should change the ‘salesperson’ label to ‘compliance specialist’ or ‘persuasion engineer’ or better still, ‘helper.’ As a trainer, your first order of business is to help your prospective clients. There is no need to sell if your primary focus is on helping. And the first thing you want to help your prospective clients do is hire the best trainer possible – you. It is pretty difficult to have a negative association toward helping people. The next time the phone rings, or you receive an email inquiry, forget about selling to that dog owner and remember, there is a reason they contacted you – they need your help. Help and good things will follow. Effective, professional salespeople, help others. And it feels great to do so. Selling is helping. n John D. Visconti CPDT-KA is the owner of Fetch More Dollars sales consulting for dog trainers, Dog Trainer ConneXion business management software and Rising Star Dog Training.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2014
Your BARKS summer edition. The quarterly publication from The Pet Professional Guild