The Secret to Effective Sales and Marketing Is Not in Techniques
(Minghui.org) I was surprised when my boss notified me that I had been transferred to the import/export department. I may have a college degree, but this position was not in line with my area of study at all. I am introverted, and not very good at reading people or telling jokes. Our company's sales force is made up of the most aggressive people. Some are hearty drinkers and others are excellent in social skills. As for me, I quit drinking when I started practicing Falun Gong, and was by no means qualified for this task.
My boss explained, "This job has high demands on the candidates. Our clients are among the most important resources for our company. We keep losing our clients, and we don't have any effective way of retaining them. It is precisely because you practice Falun Gong and can be depended on morally that I recommended you for this position. I am confident that you will do very well."
I thought to myself, "I must do this job well in order to validate that Falun Gong is good."
Yet it was not easy, and I faced a lot of challenges at first. I cultivated poorly at the time. I had just been released from prison for practicing Falun Gong. I had slacked off and I rarely studied the Fa or practiced the Falun Gong exercises. While I continued to call myself a Falun Gong practitioner, I was behaving more like an non-cultivator. I was clueless as to how to pick up my new job assignment quickly. I did not study any foreign language or international trade in college, so I had to study those subjects as much as possible. I went to work early and left work late. I studied diligently and asked my colleagues humbly about learning strategies and techniques for developing an international market. Those sales experts tended to have their own excellent techniques. I thought they would be my secret weapon to help make me a great salesperson, so I made a conscious effort to study and apply them. Some examples are: designing beautiful and well-written marketing letters, sending holiday greetings to the clients, corresponding with clients and replying to their telephone inquiries on time, seeking new clients via networking and public events such as exhibits, etc.
Yet my hard work did not pay off. I had a good start with the help of friends, but I progressed very slowly. I worked like a robot every day, but I didn't get many new clients. I made numerous calls and replied to numerous emails, but my sales volume was dismal. Moreover, I had many conflicts because I didn't manage my Xinxing well. I was physically and mentally worn out. Finally I exploded. One day I had a big fight with a manager that I had held grudges against for a long time. I couldn't let it go for a long time after the fight. Finally, even my friends told me that I do not behave like a Falun Gong practitioner at all. I had to calm down and reflect upon myself. What on earth was my problem? I worked hard and I tried to develop knowledge and techniques. Why couldn't I deliver results? If I should go on like this, how could I call myself a Falun Gong practitioner, let alone validate that Falun Gong is good?
I began to rectify myself gradually. I became more diligent in my cultivation. One day I suddenly developed a new understanding about my job while I was studying the Fa. Teacher has taught us to be a good person wherever we are, and to do our job well at work, but Teacher has also said,
"If you don’t study diligently, will you be able to go to college? If you study hard, won’t you get what you deserve? You should just study naturally, and you will be able to go to college. If you’re always thinking about it and pursuing it, then that’s an attachment." ("Teaching the Fa and Answering Questions in Yanji" in Zhuan Falun Fajie)
I realized that I had been thinking only of validating myself and doing a better job than others. It was a strong attachment to fame and self-interest. I had a fight with the manager because I was attached to showing off. He was annoyed with my desire to show off and I was angry when he pointed it out. Moreover, I had focused on sales techniques, but Falun Gong focuses on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. There was lack of earnestness behind my strategies and techniques. Had I thought about the clients from the bottom of my heart? Had I thought about the problems from their perspectives? I had not. I had been polite and attentive, but with strings attached. My goal was to persuade them to buy my products. I was disappointed when I failed to cut a deal and lost interest in them. Teacher has asked us to eliminate our attachment to pursuit. Isn't this an attachment to pursuit? If I am truly interested in validating Falun Gong, I should bring Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to everyone. If I am truly thinking about the sentient beings, I should spread the truth about Falun Gong and seeds of kindness.
I no longer try to show off. I am no longer attached to sales figures. I came to realize that Compassion involves bringing the most beautiful things to others unconditionally and Truthfulness involves doing things for others without any strings attached at a basic level. Although my relationship with the clients is based on products and services, I will be truly good to them only if I help them understand the truth about Falun Gong. Even if I fail to cut a deal, I should have them feel the existence of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance through me.
Now that I am no longer selfish, I can think clearly. I always had difficulty in comprehending English, but now I can suddenly understand it. All of a sudden I was bestowed with the wisdom to solve problems I had difficulty solving for a long time. I resolved the conflict with my boss. Before I knew it, I had more clients and my sales figures grew.
One day a Korean client called to inquire about the price because he was ready to order 2000 tons of product. Naturally he had to compare prices from different suppliers because of the size of the order. Our company happened to have a much higher price, so it was next to impossible to make a deal. Before rectifying myself, I would have given him a ball-park figure because there was little hope of making the deal. Now that I have changed my mentality, I treat every client as a sentient being related to me and not just a business prospect. I also try to be nice and kind to everyone. I made an enthusiastic and honest presentation of our products and prices. A thought to imply weaknesses in our competitors flashed through my mind during the presentation, but I immediately gave up on that thought. I decided only to explain the strengths of our products and leave the choice to him. After all, a genuinely kind person would never derogate anyone intentionally or unintentionally. I was surprised that the client quickly decided to order from us. He said that he trusted me after he listened to my presentation. He said he had to find reliable products and a reliable man when it came to such a big order. He decided to buy from us even though other companies offered better prices.
One day I called a client in southern China that I had never met before. He had never ordered anything from me, but he kept asking me for favors. "Could you help me find a few good local agents?" "I heard your city is known for its peanuts. Could you find peanut suppliers for me?" I thought it would be selfish of me if I refused to help him without receiving any benefits. What is the harm of helping others even though they are not part of my responsibilities? Each time he asked me a question, I would provide the information he needed patiently and sincerely. He eventually became my client because he considered me reliable. Southern Chinese businessmen are known to be highly calculative, but he has never fought for dimes and pennies or fussed over trivial matters. He would always tell me thoughtfully, "I won't give you a hard time. I know if you say no, it really means no. I trust you." One day he told me, "I have never met you, but I always feel as though I were enjoying a spring breeze when I hear your voice." I replied, "It is probably because of my spiritual belief. I believe in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance." He was pleasantly surprised. "I know about it. I know about it! My maternal grandmother also practices Falun Gong. She is blessed with longevity and good fortune." He would send text messages to wish me a happy Chinese New Year from thousands of miles away. "High mountains and long rivers we may be away from each other, but I am appreciative of your constant help." When I was persecuted again for practicing Falun Gong, he asked around to find my whereabouts and sent me text messages to encourage me. "As long as you have righteous thoughts in mind, it is spring time everywhere you go."
Since I let go of my attachment to self-interest and ego, I have become increasingly peaceful, relaxed and pure. I treat every client or potential client with equal kindness, whether I make a deal and whether or not it is a large order. I treat them with kindness and sincerity. I won them over and won the market without pursuit. Teacher has also bestowed me with wisdom as I upgraded my Xinxing level. I found new ways to expand the client base, which even seasoned salespeople find a challenge. I try to clarify the truth about Falun Gong to everyone I encounter at work and treat them with kindness. I don't look busy, but I am highly efficient at work. My boss and my colleagues highly approve of my work. I don't have any extraordinary sales techniques. The friendliness, sincerity and tolerance that I have manifested and attained via cultivation have become my most effective sales tools. Perhaps this is what ancient Chinese people meant by, "No technique is better than any technique."