Selling Garbage

By Beacon Staff

A few weeks ago, my last comment was something along the lines of “You’re only as good as your last transaction.”

Earlier today in a related conversation, I made a comment to someone that “every job is a sales job”, which provoked a response from one acquaintance – “even the garbage man?”

Yes, indeed.

Let’s talk about two salesmen:

Garbage man “A” accidentally knocks over your trash cans with the fender on his truck. After climbing out of the cab, he empties them into the truck, leaves what fell out the cans on the ground, and tosses the cans back into the driveway. If it’s 6am, it seems as if he’s trying to make as much noise as possible, revving his truck as he pulls away, riling up the neighbor’s dogs who bark repeatedly, waking up the baby.

Garbage man “B” also knocks over your trash cans. Unlike his peer, he stops and picks up the spilled refuse, empties the cans, sets them quietly at the edge of the driveway and pulls away at a normal pace without making a fuss.

Which trash pickup service do you want servicing your home? You want the good sales guy – garbage man B’s employer.

Think about the public-facing staff at a radiator shop you visit for the first time.

If you walk in and they are professionally-dressed, is your reaction favorable? Keep in mind that professionally-dressed may mean mechanic’s overalls, not a $1200 suit.

On the other hand, if they look like they haven’t showered in days and they smell a little funny even though you are the first appointment of the day, are you excited to be there?

Maybe you cut the mechanic a little bit of slack, so now let’s imagine you’re in a restaurant or medical care facility.

Are you a little bit more concerned now?

Everything impacts the sale, whether you like it or not. The appearance of your staff, your place of business, parking lot, even the smell.

The smell?

Sure. Imagine you’re walking into an extended care center. Your mom simply can’t be cared for at home for some reason.

When you walk into the first one, the halls are crowded with unattended residents in wheelchairs. There’s nothing going on anywhere. As you turn down the hall where the bedrooms are, the smell of urine hits you like a Muhammad Ali right hit Joe Frazier.

Are you done shopping yet? How about some lunch? Smelling salts, Mister Frazier? The woman who bore you and nursed you and patched up your scraped knees is going to be living in a place that smells like a bedpan?

Not in this lifetime Sparky, let’s keep moving.

Your next visit is 180 degrees the other way. While there isn’t a flag football game going on in the courtyard, the place smells clean and the residents are active and the ones who aren’t so mobile are being read to or listening to music, etc.

Sales jobs. All of ’em.

Even the people who have the less-than-pleasant job of taking care of cleanup and replacement of Depends and caring for folks they barely know are salespeople.

The person who answers your phone with a pleasant, helpful tone, a snarl or “how long IS it till 5:00pm” monotone is also a salesperson.

Active or passive?

Beyond the passive salespeople that we’ve just talked about, there are others.

Like that shy, slightly geeky slide rule totin’ guy with the pocket protector who once in a while goes out in the field and has to talk with clients.

The mechanic who comes out of the bay to tell you the news.

The plumber who slides out from under your muddy crawl space and says “Well,…”.

The young kid who takes the tourist out to see the boat they just rented and teach them how not to sink it on Flathead Lake.

None of these folks are the first ones you tend to think of when you decide to do some sales training, but they should be. They’re like the recon Marine. Front and center, making a first impression.

So train ’em. Maybe they won’t turn into Zig Ziglar or Tom Hopkins. Train them anyway. It’ll make a difference.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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