It’s a stereotype that’s known around the world.
Fake-friendly. Big smile. Pushy. And DETERMINED to get your wallet.
And he has nothing to do with YOU, right?
But every business needs someone – maybe many people – to do the selling. It’s essential, and if you can SELL, your career prospects are brighter.
So, perhaps you’ll have to sell. Do you have to be like the used-car guy?
NO. You do not. In fact, IF you behave like that, your chances of selling success are small.
Think about it. If you’re selling your services – or a product-and-service combination – you’re selling yourself. If they buy, they get YOU and perhaps your colleagues, not just a physical product. Would you pay to have the used-car guy around your business?
I didn’t think so.
The image of the successful salesman is just about exactly the opposite of the people who really are successful in sales. And yet the image persists – in the movies, mostly.
Salespeople aren’t born, they’re made.
And you can make yourself into a successful salesperson, if you know what it takes … and what it doesn’t. Here’s what successful selling is NOT about:
1. It’s not about a fake smile. People hate insincere people. They tend to like and trust people who are deeply knowledgeable about what they’re selling, and who provide information that helps them understand how other people successfully use your company’s services to accomplish things that are important.
2. Actually, it IS about being a little pushy, if by “pushy” you mean “having a point of view.” The Challenger Sale research teaches us that knowledgeable salespeople who have a point of view that they share with their prospects – and that they hold on to when they get pushback – are often successful. And their prospects say they LEARN from such salespeople.
3. And good selling IS about being determined – but not being determined to get a prospect’s wallet. Instead, you should be determined to see your prospect get where he or she wants to go … whether or not he gets there by working with you. Now, to be fair, some prospects don’t know what they want. They don’t know what’s possible. But they do want circumstances in their company to be better than they are now, and if they can see how your service will improve their situation, they are more likely to be interested in working with you.
The truth is that people buy from those they trust. Maybe they’ll buy a product from someone they don’t know, but when they’re buying services, they want to trust the people who will provide those services. We now know that there are three elements that must exist for trust to begin (from the research of Maister, Green and Galford writing in The Trusted Advisor):
• Your Credibility: your (or your organization’s) background, track record, experience and education
• Your Reliability: the repeated experience of expectations met
• Intimacy: your willingness to let conversations go beyond traditional bounds, and your willingness to be a bit self revealing
The same researchers taught us, however, that one element, Self-Orientation, must NOT be present, or it will kill trust. Self-Orientation is the sense a prospect might get that you’re fundamentally only interested in achieving your own objective, rather than helping her achieve hers.
Once they trust you, it’s also true that people tend to like positive people, and those with a sincere interest in being of help.
Is that you?
If so, you can learn to be a salesperson. But be aware that most of the people with whom you speak won’t have a desire, right at this moment, to hire a new supplier of whatever-it-is-you-have-to-sell. So those people will be saying NO to you. NO, of course, means “No right now.” And that doesn’t mean that they won’t become disappointed in their current supplier at some point in the future and want to work with someone new.
When that happens, you want to be on their “radar screen” – so when they think “I’ve had about enough of this supplier’s mistakes/unresponsiveness/high cost/whatever, they will also think, “Who was that person who spoke with me earlier about changing suppliers? I should give him a call!”
Read the last two paragraphs again. If you want to be on their radar screen when they become disenchanted with their current supplier, you have to get in touch with them now, and you have to hear NO (for right now). If you can’t handle that, you won’t be able to sell. But if you CAN handle that, and let them go in peace, adding them to a list of people with whom you’ll be in touch from time to time – ideally with something that may interest them, or some information that will be useful – you have what it takes to sell.
Your good heart, your sincere desire to see your prospects succeed, your willingness to speak with people who might be saying no, and your belief that what you have to offer is worthwhile -- and worth the investment you’re asking people to make – are all you need: you’re a candidate to be very successful in sales. Now get yourself some solid and up-to-date selling and closing skills, and give selling a try. ASK to be involved. Don’t expect instant success; work at it for awhile. And give yourself success in a skill that every business needs to survive. In the immortal words of Tom Peters,
“All true businesspeople know: life is sales.
The rest is details.”