Most people think selling is the same as talking. But the most effective sales people know that listening is the most important part of their job. Roy Bartell
I would be the first to admit that as a fresh graduate from the Applied Modern Languages Faculty, English and French major, I would have never imagined I could become a…sales person.
I had never seen myself as someone who could convince others to buy products or services, or someone who could negotiate and close deals. Somehow I thought that in order to be successful in sales you needed to be an aggressive person, to call people every day and push them into buying things they don’t really need.
My first job in sales kind of stumbled upon me. I was working in purchasing for a company in the telecommunications industry, when others thought that I would do a great job in Sales. My first thought was: “no way that I can work in sales!”
I overcame my fears and I discovered quickly that the people on the other end of the line (or email) are just that: people. That what you first need to do is listen and understand what your clients need and only afterwards talk about your company and what you can do to help them. I learned that the most important thing is to know and trust your products and services, and really believe in what you are selling. You will never convince others of your assets if you yourself don’t believe in them.
The first international trade show I participated at was in Barcelona. Since my previous communication with clients had been done purely at email level and on the phone, I was terrified at the thought of meeting my clients face to face for the first time. Most of them were from Africa and I was afraid that the different language and culture would stand as a barrier between us; I feared that I wasn’t ready to have a “real” business meeting.
None of my fears manifested. Actually, I was pleased to discover that face to face communication is much easier than virtual or on the phone discussions. I made friends, understood my clients better and I got an impressive after-fair feedback. The meetings strengthened my relationship with existing clients and brought me face to face with brand new customers.
More recently, as a new comer in the language services industry (although I am a translator at heart), I was faced with even more new challenges. Switching from selling products to selling purely services is a difficult process altogether, and completely changing the industry made this challenge even greater.
Again, international trade shows helped me establish new contacts over a short period of time and lay the basis for future lucrative business relationships.
IFA Berlin, 6-11 September, 2013 – Europe’s largest consumer electronics & home appliances fair: 1,500 exhibitors displayed their vast range of products and innovations on rented display areas covering 145,000 m². Overall, around 240,000 visitors attended IFA 2013. It was impressive and exciting! In 3 words: tech, tech and more tech! The exhibition was full of innovative gadgets, long-awaited launches and huge glamorous booths from the biggest players in the market.
Cebit Bilisim Istanbul, 23-27 October 2013 – top Eurasian IT, Technology and Communication Platform, it brought ICT companies, government and media in the Eurasian region together under the same roof. The figures were impressive as well: more than 1,000 fair participants and sponsor companies from across 23 countries, visitors from 93 countries. It was filled with local flavor, with an impressive number of Turkish producers presenting high quality products.
All in all, I would say that exhibitions constitute a great neutral territory for business negotiations. Participation in trade shows is particularly important for companies seeking to succeed in a highly competitive global market. And don’t forget the advantages it brings to a sales person: personal development and the opportunity to travel and see the world (between meetings) J
Please let me know if you will be present at any international trade show, and maybe we can meet there to share your own experiences on the matter!