I bravely walked in through the front door right past their "No Soliciting" sign and up to the front desk. It was a cold call. I felt so cool standing there with my BlackBerry 8700 in hand (later versions even had a color screen!).
It was early in my previous career in the wireless industry, and I was in a small business sales position. In short, my job was to go out and find local businesses that were out of contract with their existing provider and convince them to switch.
The company I was calling on was a carpet cleaning business not far from where I lived. I introduced myself to the woman behind the counter, and I asked that she pass my business card along to the owner or operations manager so that we could be considered the next time the take competitive bids for their wireless service.
I could tell from the look on her face this wasn't going to go well. She rejected the business card (I got the hand). Then she started yelling at me. "You people! I've asked to be removed from your list! Yet, you have the nerve to come into my office?" (Keep in mind this was the first time I had ever called on them.)
She continued yelling. "Now, get the h*** out of here and don't ever f****** come back!"
Instead of leaving, I leaned in a little further and tore out a piece of paper from my binder. I started writing down my name, address, phone number, and email on the paper.
Then, I handed it to her, and I said, "That's fine. I won't ever come back here after this. But first I'd like you to add me to YOUR "list" as well. Please don't ever contact me again about having my carpets cleaned or send me any solicitations in the mail. I used your service three times last year, and I will now be using your competitor's."
That's right: I was their customer, and she didn't know it.
Every business needs customers
So, even if your role and job description is far removed from sales, your activities, behaviors, and customer relations contribute to your company being able to make sales.
Many people view sales people in a negative light, and they will probably fight me on their position having to do anything at all remotely related to sales.
However, consider this: When you're on a flight, and the person next to you notices your company's logo and asks about what you do, aren't you going to begin telling them about your company's products or services and attempt to paint them in the best light possible? (Of course you are.) Why? Because you never know who that person could be or who they know at their company.
The way you interact with people out in public affects your company's sales. I'm always amazed when I see people treating their vendors poorly. The person trying to sell you something today might be your buyer tomorrow, next month, or in five years. If you treat that person poorly, they will go out of their way to use your competitor.
Always remember that sales people are customers too, and you're also in sales whether you like it or not. You never know who that person is who is looking across the counter from you.