In the broadest sense everyone is in sales. If we look at selling as persuading someone then we all are selling most of our life. A child may be asking their parents to watch another hour of television before going to bed and giving them dozens of reasons why that is reasonable or asking to do their homework later instead of now with an equal number of good reasons. One person may be trying to persuade their spouse to clean the garage Saturday while still another person may be trying to convince someone it is a good idea to go out with them on a date. A car salesperson may be selling someone on the idea of buying a sports car. As different as these seem, they are all sales and they are all selling. The first point to takeaway is that the largest part of sales is persuasion and we do that everyday.
You Are Already A Salesperson
People often say they don’t like salespeople. If you suggest that someone would make a good salesperson that can even be taken as an insult, but the truth is we are all already salespeople, the difference in the people we think of as salespeople and ourselves is what we are selling and how we benefit or are compensated for our actions and efforts. People that are traditional salespeople are compensated primarily with money and the rest of us are compensated with a great many different things directly and money too in an indirect way. For example, if you have a job you sold someone on the idea of hiring you and money was your compensation for making that sale. Even if you are an airline pilot or a school teacher your income is a result of your ability to sell, in this case sell yourself to the person that hired you. In all of these cases you sold someone on you and the idea of hiring you.
You are already a salesperson and if you have ever convinced someone to marry you and sign a contract on a proposal that is binding “until death do we part” you are a pretty good salesperson, wouldn’t you say?
We All Need Salespeople
How much of what we buy as consumers do we really need? Do we really need a new car every two, three, even four years? Do we really need a bigger house to keep the stuff in we never use? Do we really need a new outfit for a holiday, the latest cell phone, a computer with the latest operating system or a wide-screen television that is a little wider than the one we have? If we only bought what we needed, the basic things like food, water, shelter and minimal clothing our economy would shrink so dramatically that unemployment would skyrocket. In fact, if we only bought what we really needed the world as we know it could not and would not exist. Salespeople are a driving force in our economy and they make the quality of life we enjoy possible.
Practically all jobs and careers are supported by salespeople. If you are a brain surgeon you work at a hospital that someone is marketing and selling people on the idea of coming to this hospital so you can help them instead of any of all the other hospitals with all of the other surgeons. If you are an attorney or lawyer you or someone is promoting your law firm and selling people on the idea that your skills and services can benefit them above any other law firm or legal professional. No matter what you do your income is either directly supported by sales, indirectly supported by sales or you benefit from an economy that is driven by sales. We all need salespeople. If you are a traditional salesperson hold your head high and be proud of your profession.
Salespeople Have Some Of The Highest Incomes
Some salespeople are store clerks or in some other way sell low profit margin items and have low incomes, but some salespeople sell luxury items and big ticket items that have high profit margins and create high incomes. Although some salespeople earn the lowest incomes in our economy, other salespeople have the highest incomes in our economy. The difference is in the cost of the item sold and the profit margin. If you can make a living selling kitchen knives, pots and pans, shoes or hotdogs and potato chips you have the basic skills to sell yachts, luxury homes, medical equipment and other high commission items and services.
You can go door to door selling vacuum cleaners calling on a few dozen people a day to make a decent living or you can sell a yacht or a high end home once a month and make considerably more money calling on a few people to make an exceptional living. Really the choice is yours. It may take you time to move up the sales ladder, but if you set that as a goal the only one that can permanently stop you is you.
Here is the point: If you are going to sell, then sell something that makes you a fair amount of money and a good living.
You may start in a department store or going door to door selling vacuum cleaners, but you aren’t stuck there for life. As you hone your sales skills work on selling yourself up into higher sales positions and make more money.
Basic Selling Methods And Techniques
When I was calling on clients and prospects throughout the day to make my living I started the day by buying something. Gasoline for the car or maybe a bottle of water or a roll of breath mints. Before I would go into the store I would say this to myself:
I like me.
I like what I do.
I like this person.
Yes, I would say I like this person before I ever met them. I wasn’t going to leave liking this person to chance, I had set a goal of liking this person. I was establishing the foundation of this relationship before I met them. This was a low risk encounter with a person and I wanted to have success and start my day out right before I called on my sales clients and prospects. My first sales goals of the day were to sell me on me, me on what I do and me on this person.
Sales are largely an inside job. The prospect will pick up quickly on what you have going on inside of you. As a bonus I would set the goal of getting this person I spoke to first thing in the morning to smile or otherwise interact with me in a positive way. After a little practice I almost never lost.
As I called on each client or prospect I would repeat the exercise before I entered the next building or office. I like me, I like what I do, and I like this person. I really like this person! This person I was about to meet could write me a check to pay my house payment, this person could write me a check that would put food on my table and clothes on my children, this person could write me a check to pay for taking my wife out to dinner and a movie this week. I really like this person! If you are making your living from direct sales you had better like that person too!
When we like people they pick up on that. It helps them like us and that is important because people do business with people they know, like and trust. Like any relationship the sales relationship is based on knowing that person, liking that person and trusting that person. Do you go out with people you don’t know, like or trust? Do you willingly spend time with people you don’t know, like or trust? Of course not. Other people don’t either and they don’t buy from people they don’t know, like and trust if they have another choice. Give them that choice.
Big sales are made up of little sales. When I teach sales training I explain it this way, “In sales you seldom find an elevator to the top, you usually have to take the stairs one step at a time.” If I come along as a prospect and the first thing out of your mouth is buy this car, buy this furniture, buy this house or buy whatever, then how do you think I will feel about you and what you are selling? You are trying to take the elevator nonstop to your goal and bypass dealing with me as a person. People won’t like that. People like to be treated like people and not like checkbooks and credit cards with legs.
Let’s back up a little here and take the stairs, the elevator is out. The first sale you should make is you on you. You need to be confident in your ability and if you aren’t then your uncertainty will create uncertainty in your client. The next thing you need to sell is to sell yourself on your product. I know some salespeople make a living selling junk, but look at their lives over a period of time. Selling something you don’t believe in creates an internal conflict and that will come out in your life in time. Most people can’t effectively sell something they don’t believe in and some people can’t sell a product they don’t believe in at all. If you can’t believe in your product find one you can believe in. Don’t waste your time and effort with something that you can’t solidly get behind.
The next sale in the stair step process is selling you on your prospect. We have already talked about that in our morning exercise, I like me, I like what I do and I like this person.
Now we sell the prospect on us. You sell them on you. Well, how do you do that? If you want to build a relationship with someone you shouldn’t try to be the most interesting person in the room, you should work to be the most interested person in the room. People like to be heard. Ask some good questions and listen. Feedback a little of what they are saying so they know you really hear them. Don’t do this like you were following a written script, be a real human being talking to another real human being.
Taking The Same Side
A very powerful technique I teach in sales is also a very respectful and moral technique. I call it, “Going Over To The Prospects Side.” It starts with the golden rule, “Treat Others Like You Want To Be Treated.” The golden rule is the basic rule in creating a sales career. If you want to make a career in this you can’t be meeting new people all of the time and spending the time and effort to get to know them and build a relationship before you sell them something. For this to be a career you will need some repeat sales from people you have already helped to know, like and trust you. If you want to be sure that a person will come back and buy from you again always treat them in harmony with the golden rule and the way to do that is put yourself in their shoes. Treat your prospects like you want to be treated.
The next step in this technique is to go to their side of the table figuratively and if you actually have a table you are working at really go over to their side. Don’t be on the sales side of this transaction; join them on the buyer’s side. You become an assistant to the buyer. People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy things. Help them buy what they want to buy. Ever see women take their girlfriends shopping? Their girlfriends role is to be assistant buyers, they help their friend buy what they want and keep them from making a buying mistake. Do these jeans look good on me? My wife asks her girlfriends that they tell her. Men do it too. I know a few fellows that drive a couple of hours to the huge sporting goods store in a major city every few months. They wouldn’t think of going alone, what fun would that be? Be a friend the prospect wants to take along for the buying experience.
Ask questions about what the prospect wants. Show them you are willing to rule out things that don’t fit their wants or needs. Let them know you want them to be satisfied with what they buy. Encourage them to treat themselves and let them know they deserve to get something they are happy with. Help them see and imagine themselves after the purchase. Are they enjoying the product or service? Work until you find a match that they can see themselves not only enjoying, but loving. When you do this correctly you really won’t have to sell anything, they will insist on buying from you.
Sales and selling can be as complicated as human nature or as simple as listening to what someone is saying. I hope this article has given you some insights on how you can make money through sales and how to make even more money by following the simple points I have presented. Always remember it is about helping people, the best salespeople never lose sight of that.