I am an architect. So why did I spend 11 hours in the hot Denver sun selling pest control as a door-to-door salesman?
Sales skills are an essential ingredient for business success. Whether you are looking for a job or pitching a client, your power to convince will depend largely on your ability to sell. Having good sales skills will go a long way toward putting your architecture firm on a solid foundation.
I wanted to put myself to the test and see if I have what it takes to sell door-to-door. The life of a door-to-door salesman is hard. The days are long and full of rejection. Successful salesmen are masters of persuasion and human psychology.
I can't think of another sales experience with more immediate feedback than walking from house to house testing out the same pitch over and over. So when I found out that my younger brother was going to be in Denver selling pest control while I was attending the AIA National Convention, I jumped at the chance to leave the world of architecture for the day and become an undercover pest control salesman.
The day was long and hot. It was humbling to shed my persona as a college-educated architect and become a salesman with no degree and no credential. And although selling architectural services is far removed from door-to-door sales, I still learned several valuable lessons that I will be applying to selling architectural services.
Lesson #1: Selling is an acquired skill.
I've often envied those with the gift of gab and power of persuasion. Selling seems to come easily to some people and is difficult for others who have a more introverted personality.
While some people are more wired for socializing than others, my day of door-to-door sales convinced me that effective selling is an acquired skill. I got better at it as the day wore on. And my brother, with a month of sales under his belt, was far better at it than I was.
This is great news for those of us who dread having to sell our architectural services because it means that with study and practice we can become better.
I identified the two most important tactics for improving your skill at selling.
- Study the proper steps for a successful sales conversation. There is a well defined psychology in the sales process of taking someone from a complete stranger to a client. Many books describe this process. I've included links to a few of the best books at the bottom of this post. Buy them, study them, and figure out how you can apply their lessons to selling your services as an architect. $20 dollars for a book and an hour of your time is a wise investment that will pay dividends for the rest of your career.
- Role play the sales conversation. After you've identified the proper way to sell your services, sit down with a colleague, spouse or other hapless victim and practice having a sales conversation. Have them raise typical concerns and practice an effective response for each one. I found this to be very effective for my day of sales. This is hard work and takes time, but as Andrew Carnegie said, “anything in life worth having is worth working for”.
This is the first lesson I learned from my day of sales, but there are 8 others. I know you don't have much time, so I'll explain more about these other 8 points in my next post. If you are on the Business of Architecture Insider's List, I'll send you an email when the next post is live. You'll also have access to other Insider only content like marketing tips and the download link for my book on how social media can help you get more visibility online.
What are some insights about selling architectural services that you've gained over the years? Leave your answer in the comments below.
Here is your essential sales libray:
- Brian Tracy: The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible
- Tom Hopkins: How to Master the Art of Selling
- Zig Ziglar: Selling 101: What Every Successful Sales Professional Needs to Know
- Robert Cialdini: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Here is the link to Part 2 of this article.