Sales feels creepy and sleazy. It’s only for liars, peddlers and swindlers doused in Drakkar Noir and manufactured optimism, pushing shoddy products (Like fake Drakkar. I mean, if you’re gonna sell me the scent of the 90’s, let’s make sure it’s legit!) on the unfortunate souls who happen to be in their way.
Ding. Dong. I’m not home. Go away.
Must Have Item of the Summ- Delete.
Unlisted number. I’m not answering that.
We hate being duped, tricked or forced to pay more than we could have, so much so that bartering for a rug or a used car gives us an anxiety attack. “Why can’t they just put the price that they really want?”
It opens up our sweat glands when we see people on the sidewalk with clipboards in their hands trying to raise money for a cause. Oh no no no. Don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. Maybe if I take my cell phone out and text, or better yet, answer a phantom phone call, I can get through the gauntlet...phew.
But here’s the reality we need to swallow:
Everyone’s In Sales. And You (and I) Need To Get Better At It
To make it in this world these days, you have to sell. It might not be windshield wipers or a vacuum cleaner, but you will be selling your opinion, your idea, or your value. In the words of Daniel Pink in his new book To Sell Is Human, “We’re in the business of moving others.”
A resume is you selling yourself. Laughing at a joke that you didn’t think was that funny is selling yourself. Following up with someone is selling yourself. Have to get buy-in from someone? That’s selling. Want to convince your friends to go to this restaurant and not that one? That’s selling. Want a raise or a promotion? Time to sell, baby.
Selling is convincing someone up the food chain from you - whether they’re there through providence, nepotism, seniority, serenity, randomness, bull shit or hard work - that you deserve something you don’t currently have (money, attention, support).
You don’t have to like capitalism, but you have to understand its rules. Even if you have to be what Shamus Jones, the founder of Brooklyn Brine, calls a “reluctant capitalist.” I know I am.
Afterall, our country is built on the biggest sales platform ever created: democracy.
Vote for me! Pick me!
You Can’t Be An Entrepreneur And Not Sell
You’re going to do things differently, you say. You’re going to build your website/product and wait for everyone to come. If your product is good enough, it will sell itself. If you build it, they will come.
(cricket...cricket) Where IS everyone?
Well unfortunately, if you build it, you have to tell everyone you built and why they should come. And then still, they might not come.
Now more than ever, the power is with the consumer, not the seller. Consumers can research online, compare, read reviews, ask their friends, filter their emails, screen their calls, and so on. Long gone are the days where a salesman told you what your best options were simply because she knew more than you.
Why Selling Sucks
Sales is uncomfortable because its very nature demands that you derail someone from the current path she is on and strip her of her mental, physical or financial resources that seconds earlier, she was perfectly happy holding on to. Before any value can permeate to someone’s brain, you first have to throw a wrench into her day.
And what typically happens when people get wrenches thrown at them? They get defensive.
That's why we don't like selling. We’re terrified of being rejected.
Because sales is telling someone what you've put days, weeks or months of your life into and then hearing them say, "No thanks," 99 times out of 100.
Boom. Two words. Two syllables. Death by vocal dismemberment in less than a second.
But you then have to smile and act like you enjoyed the totality of the kick in the nuts you just received so you can hopefully come back on a later day and try to convince them again.
What To Do About It
I highly recommend reading Dan Pink’s new book: To Sell Is Human. There are more nuggets in there than I could share here but alas, I can’t leave you with nothing! Here are 6 tips for becoming a better salesperson in your life:
Be relatable - Joe Girard, the best selling car salesman in the world puts it so succinctly, “People want a fair deal from someone they like.” Find some sort of commonality with the person you are “selling” to. People don’t buy from you because you want them to. People buy from you (or buy into you) because they trust you. Trust comes from communicating clearly and having the other person like what you’re saying, outside of the thing you’re actually selling.
Touch - Not creepy touching. But if you’re doing face-to-face convincing, a gentle touch on the arm every now and then. When certain canvassers asked for signatures for a petition, 55% of people did so. When the canvassers lightly touched people on the upper arm, 81% of people signed.
No one buys the first time - Don’t take it personally. You will ignore this advice (I know I do. They don’t like me. They hate me! NOOOOOOO!) but it’s one of the most important lessons. Your first contact shouldn’t be about closing the deal, it should be about building a relationship.
Understand what the other side is thinking, not just what they’re feeling - In a simulated sale of a gas station, people who were told to imagine what the seller of the gas station was thinking, managed to reach a deal that satisfied both sides many more times than those who were solely asked to empathize with what he might be feeling. If you only focus on empathy, you choose to make the other side happy, at the expense of you. This is rule #1 for writing online. Know what your reader is thinking, what they hold imporant, and what their interests are.
Mimic - There are countless studies that show if you subtly mimic the mannerisms of the person you are selling to, the better you will be at selling. You don’t want to be someone’s shadow, per se but watching how they’re standing, how their arms are folded, if they’re leaning forwards or backwards, can help you in selling. When it comes to online selling, figuring how how your customers talk and how they react to things is paramount in getting them to believe you.
The Goldilocks -Vert - Here’s some good news for you non-extroverts. Most people think that only extroverts are good salespeople. But the truth is that the ambiverts (those who can act half-extroverted and half-introverted sell the most). On a scale of very introverted (1) to very extroverted (7), those who were in the middle (ambiverts) tended to sell the most (see graphics below).
There is an assessment test that takes 2 minutes to fill out to see what kind of a person you are. Thankfully, I tested as an ambivert. So give me more of your money, please. You can trust me :)
What did your assessment say? Do you agree with it?