How being a salesperson shaped me into a better designer
During the past years, I have worked in sales for the technology and architecture industry. I learned that the most successful salespeople who close the most deals are not those who aggressively pushes his prospective customers into closing a deal, but the ones who have deep empathy.
What do I mean by "deep empathy"? To have the ability to understand how the customer thinks and learn what his or her pain points are. For example, on many occasions, I sensed a desire to buy but some hesitation because of budget problems. My strategy in this scenario was to be proactive and suggest alternative payment plans to close the deal. Did I close 100% of the deals? No, I did not, but I definitely increased my chances of closing more deals. I was putting myself on the same financial page as my prospect was and they knew I understood their challenges.
On top of empathy, I trained myself to be a good listener.
Every prospect customer was different so I had to be able to listen more than they talked. As if I was a journalist who has prepared to ask probing questions, I prepared myself to ask the kind of questions that allow me to explore my buyer's mind. It was not enough to have a good sense of people, especially with cold calls, I needed a strategy.
All the organizations I worked for had scripts for their salespeople to follow. I never did. Why? In reality, the sales scenario never matches the one you trained for. I had to be confident enough to think of my feet and improvise. Honestly, this is the best way to go if you are a sales consultant: prospect clients throw curve balls at you all the time so you better adapt, quickly.
As all this happens on the fly, you have to be agile too. The more clients I was exposed to, the more I learned to be agile and use my empathy to read my customer's signs.
I have heard a lot of o people say "I can't work in sales, I am terrible!". Well, if you give up easily, then this statement is true. When you work in sales, you cannot quit and give up too easily when prospects do not respond to your 8 emails or 5 calls. If you quit, you will miss out on many deals.
Just like a UX Designer, I tried to offer valuable information in every interaction so that customers can match their needs with what I have to offer, and hopefully will come to me instead of somebody else.