Death and dying are not subjects the public is comfortable dealing with in this youth-obsessed society, so when the time comes to discuss a loved one’s burial arrangements, relatives can be ill-equipped to deal with a headstone monument sales professional. For that reason, anyone getting into this business must balance compassion with sales know-how, understanding that competition is fierce and extends to some unlikely sources like eBay. If you’re interested in making a career selling monuments, you’ll need both strength and sales acumen to help customers make their emotional decisions.
Orient yourself to the funeral and burial business by reading books on the subject, studying the industry via sales literature from companies crafting headstone monuments, and spending time with professional funeral directors, clergy, cemetery administrators and caretakers. Understand stringent burial rituals undertaken by people of various ethnic groups to make certain you never offend a customer when you make suggestions about selecting a stone.
Choose to work for a major company (see link below) representing a single line of headstone monuments, an independent grave marker enterprise that represents multiple quarries and manufacturers, or enter into a relationship with a stone cutter as their sales representative, a job that will have you selling monuments directly from the craftsman.
Request hands-on training time with a sales professional who has worked for the monument company you’ll be representing to learn everything possible about your product line--from where the stone was quarried, how artisans approach the design of headstones, market pricing, special orders, standard time frames from order to delivery and sales techniques that reflect the unique nature of this solemn business.
Adopt the conservative manner and demeanor of a professional in the burial industry by adhering to a conservative, appropriate dress style. Work with a grief counselor, psychologist or other death and dying professional—or take classes in human psychology at a local college--to understand the mental state of those coming to you for the services they require. Learn the art of balancing your need to sell monuments with your customer’s need to be in the right mental frame of mind to make a purchase.
Join professional organizations (see link) dedicated to supporting sales professionals in the funeral and headstone industry so you are always up to date on new stone designs and materials. Take advantage of networking services and in-service training classes, workshops, conferences and trade shows so you’re always in the loop about industry trends, practices and legalities.
Expect to find a level of competitiveness existing in the monument industry. This is a holdover from an era when there were no government regulations on casket, monument and funerary goods and services, leading to price fixing and damage to the reputations of members of this industry. Help your industry regain it’s professional standing as you build your personal reputation, and you'll enjoy a successful career in the years ahead.
- ['Industry connections', 'Monument company affiliation', 'Sales skills']
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