You Too Have an Ability to Sell
I have a personal belief that every one of us has within an innate ability to sell and that a critical part of moving forward on this wonderful adventure is identifying and leveraging our own unique abilities in this area.
A handful of us are directly responsible for generating revenue for our companies. These people are the entrepreneurs and sales professionals who go out there on a daily basis and make sales happen. However, there are other professionals who, although they may not be directly responsible for revenue, are responsible for moving forward their organizations and the people within their organizations.
- An educator who has a vision of a new course to offer to his students first must sell the superintendent on the course’s merit.
- An HR manager who is responsible for overall employee retention within the organization must sell the leaders that the small stuff matters.
- A marketing intern who would like to leave a stamp on the department must sell her boss on giving her autonomy so early in her career.
- A dog trainer must sell a dog’s owners that consistency is the name of the game in keeping their pet from jumping up on their daughter.
- A hairstylist must sell his customer that the hairstyle she has been wearing since 1984 is no longer in style.
- A copywriter must sell a writer that he still is in need of her services even after he has written a gazillion words.
Most of us are indeed in the sales game—or at least the game of convincing others.
Why, then, would the majority of people rather contract the bubonic plague than identify themselves with sales?
My personal research suggests that the answer is in the image that people have in their minds of what sales entails. Recently I spoke with forty people who are actually in the sales profession. Yes, they are in the game of selling tangible products and services. When I asked them to shout out words associated with sales, I heard the following: pushy, convincing, sleazy, stressful, etc. Less frequently, I heard positive words such as service and problem solver. But, overwhelmingly, the words were negative.
How can something so important to our progress be considered so negative?
How can we overcome image?
I would like to offer two very simple things to consider and use in our necessary task of becoming more comfortable with sales and with convincing others.
1) A gift we can leverage
Ever since I can remember, I have been very curious. Curiosity is a gift that I leverage on a daily basis in my selling. When I meet someone new, my sole focus is on getting to know him or her. My curiosity about people and their backgrounds spurs me to ask questions and listen intently to the answers. I ask questions about family, occupation, recreation, and motivation and provide some information about my own background in each of these areas (the acronym FORM is a simply way to remember these areas). Remember FORM and use it in conversations with prospective clients, your boss, coworkers, and whomever else you need to convince. I leverage my gift of curiosity. What gift can you leverage to begin a genuine relationship with someone?
2) Our stories
I often talk to people who believe they have nothing unique to offer. A chiropractor is a chiropractor. A lawyer is a lawyer. An accountant is an accountant. But that belief could not be further from the truth. Each and every one of us has a background that can be leveraged. Yesterday I was talking to a prospective client about snowmobiling. I love to snowmobile. He not so much. When he was young, he had a minor accident on a snowmobile, and ever since he has been fearful of them. I related to him by telling him the story of how when I was eleven years old I went to my friend Ian’s house and we jumped on his 12 Elan. As we were speeding up a trail doing 5 mph, my snow pants got caught in the track. I was whipped off the machine and dragged 25 feet (it was probably only 4 feet, but to eleven-year-old me it felt like 25 feet). I didn’t ride a snowmobile again for thirty years. Five years ago, I became friends with someone who practically had grown up on a snowmobile, and he urged me to give it a try. Today, in the winter I spend much of my leisure time on a sled and the rest of my time thinking about the next trip. I shared this story with my prospective customer, and we created a bond immediately.
Our stories are what make us unique. Leverage them.
I would like to throw out a suggestion. Whether we are in the game of generating revenue for our companies or we are in the game of moving others, let’s call ourselves sales professionals. Let’s begin to identify with the role and what is required to be effective at it. I believe that if we do this we will look back at our lives five years from now and will not even recognize ourselves. Our relationships will be richer, and our accomplishments will stack on top of each other.