If you know how to sell apples …. can you also sell oranges

Customer Delight, Sales

I pride myself on the idea of being able to sell different things. I have sold things from industrial automation items to computers, to embedded devices which get into cars, all the way into selling different kinds of services.

The fundamental principle behind my confidence was the fact that if I know how to sell, then I can sell anything. Which brings us to the topic – when I am looking for someone for a specific role, to hire from outside, then why do I forget this principle. When I am looking for people to join our company from outside then I always ask for specific domain knowledge in selling. So my HR had this question, why do I discriminate.

When I am doing an internal transfer of resources, I don’t mind experimenting and letting people move from selling apples to selling oranges. That’s because, I know the capabilities of the person since they have worked in my team and I know that they will be able to adapt and learn about the new environment. Here there’s only one variable which I am addressing – the ability of the person to learn things about oranges and identifying people to sell oranges. I have had people whom I have moved from HR into Marketing because they had the drive to learn new things and explore.

When I am taking someone from outside, the person is completely unknown to me. Therefore I prefer to know, that in the domain that I want, that person has sold things. There are other variables about the new person which I don’t know. Like will the person be able to adjust to our culture, is she really in a position to deliver whatever she has written in the resume etc. Managing so many variables, including trying to give them new domain expertise is extremely time consuming. So to ensure that people become productive in the least amount of time, I would like to get people with domain expertise, when I am recruiting someone.

Coming back to where we started, if you know the psychology of selling, you can sell any product. You may take time to learn how the new product has to be positioned , what are the pain points that need to be identified etc. But once you know those, you can easily move from selling apples to selling oranges. The key aspect is knowing the psychology of helping a customer identify the problem, helping them solve the problem and delighting them.

There are other dynamics like selling cycles that you need to adapt to, but I have known people who were selling bicycle tyres to retailers get into successfully sell computers to corporates and some one selling sugar, get into selling computers.

So good sales people can sell what you give them to sell – apples or oranges.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

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