Andrew Storm began his sales career at the ripe old age of 12, gathering old clothes from around the house and selling them on the side of the road for extra pocket money.
Storm now has 13 years experience in the office automation industry.
After a few years of selling Ferret software solutions through an Auckland reseller, Andrew was offered a gig with the vendor.
His current role as a Ferret software solutions consultant involves helping businesses develop information management strategies, focusing on the audit, design and implementation of document management solutions, accounts payable and business process automation.
Storm says he has a passion for making day to day life easier for his clients.
You haven't always been in sales, have you?
I was a restaurant manager. I also started my career in the family business selling and servicing espresso machines.
Have you ever considered changing paths?
Yes, but then I remind myself I need to break par every round if I am ever going to make money playing golf, and so it seems easier to make a few more sales calls. On a serious note, no, I just made a move from a transactional sales role to a more consultative one, and I love my job.
Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed?
Not really. I think a professional salesperson with a good work ethic makes a subconscious commitment to succeed the day they accepted the position and this adds more stress than any boss or sales target can ever try to enforce.
How would you sum up the craft of sales in one sentence to an outsider?
To be successful in sales you need the ability to make people like you, trust you and want to listen to you.
How long does it take you to assess how you should approach your sales pitch?
Five to 10 minutes of preparation is pretty sufficient, more than that I start assuming. I believe the salesman's best work is done when he asks the client about where they are and where they want to be.
Have you ever put your foot in it when talking to a client?
Somewhat! But the funny thing is the client doesn't always realise what you've said. When this happens, you know you don't have their attention anymore and need to stop, get their attention back and start fresh.
How did you get past the point of struggling to make a sale to where you are today?
Believe in your product, you must be willing to buy it yourself. Passion about the profession of selling. Help people make decisions that are good for them.
Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
Yes, but not by being pushy. I believe if you can come across as an expert in your field and display massive amounts of passion and conviction for the product/service, you can be very persuasive.
Has that quality ever reflected on you in a negative way?
No. Some people may at some stage think you have lost the plot, but not anything in a negative way.
How do you balance time spent between product knowledge training with generating leads or opportunities?
Fifty-fifty in my position. I feel a need to know exactly what options are available out there and how my offer compares — as if I was in the client’s position, faced with the question of which option to go with. At the same time there is no point having all the knowledge but no one to sell to, so have to keep the pipeline full.
What’s the best deal you have ever closed?
The ones where the client is so happy with their decision, that they refer their best friends, stand out for me.
Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales?
Only if they: Believe in their product, are passionate about the profession of selling and like helping people make decisions that are good for them. Otherwise, a big no! Never take a sales position because you could not get another job. It’s bad for the client and very bad for you!