How often have we heard the old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know?” I believe however that the more you know, the more knowledgeable you are, and those people you want to know will seek you out.
I have been in retail sales and management since 1980 and, always, I’ve been “the guy” that made it a point to know more about what was going on where ever I was than anyone else.
What was the reason for this? To not only make myself more valuable to the company, but to be a great leader, among my peers. I always wanted them to think of me as the person they could ask anything of and get a straight answer.
The ultimate compliment was when I worked at a furniture store in Lindenhurst, NY, and one of the owners, Phil, said this to me one day, “You know more about the merchandise and this store than I do. Keep up the good work.”
While at that store, I helped to train new salespeople on product knowledge, as we had many lines of furniture and all were special orders. The worst mistake anybody could make then, or even now, is ordering the wrong size or color for a customer. I always taught attention to detail, and I still teach that now.
I did much training at various jobs. I started in sales while at a large bedding chain, but ended up at the main office in the merchandising department. From there, I helped with doing phone interviews for new employees and, ultimately, interviewing people in the office and passing on those I felt would be a good fit.
When someone, hired to be a trainer, passed away suddenly, I took over the training classes, since I helped to write the product knowledge manual and was familiar with the company’s sales techniques.
Because of my knowledge, I had three jobs: merchandising, hiring and training. Because of my passion for sales and product, I had the highest completion rate of people completing the training class and staying with the company for at least ninety days.
What’s the secret to my success?. The answer is simple: knowledge is power. If you have the answers to all the questions or know where to get them, you have all the power, in your hand, to complete any task.
At my current job, I made it a point to learn as much about the sales techniques and merchandise as quickly as I could. I never wanted to use the excuse to a customer, “I’m sorry, I’m new. Let me find out the answer.”
I attribute my success to never standing still and always wanting more. I make myself available to everyone in the store should they need help with product knowledge, be it for merchandise or the computer. I strive to be the best I can be and it’s always nice I get recognition for what I do.
When there is a contest, people often look my way and concede the win to me. This has happened on more than one occasion, and it happened again recently. I won a $150 gift card for having the highest percentage of dollars to sales in a particular category. Quite honestly, I had forgotten about the contest, and just went about doing what I do, selling with honesty and integrity.
I recently went to a store I worked, back in 1999, to see if they had something for my wife and to visit some former coworkers, as well. Unfortunately, no one was there that I knew, but some of the sales people knew of me. How, you wonder,? it’s probably from the former manager and the owners?
The funny part is that I still saw my handwriting on some price tags! Fourteen years later, my legacy still lives on in this store! I guess someone was too lazy to change the tag.
That’s like someone at a radio station leaving an expired promo or commercial in the automation system and letting it air many more. How many times have we heard a commercial for a concert that was over, or a contest that ran the previous week?
Attention to detail is the key, and knowledge is power. Keep those things in mind, and success soon follows.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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