Resources

Don’t Dwell on the Past

“Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #19”

This title begs the question,”If we shouldn’t dwell in the past, what is the past good for?” I think the key word is “dwell.” Another translation would be “Don’t Live in the Past.” Many business people and sales professionals like to reference “the good ole days.” The naked truth is that romanticizing about the past is a fun thing to do at dinner over an adult beverage, but it was rarely as “good” as we remember it. Even if it was easier to be profitable in the past (depending on your SIC), only some of the marketing techniques from days gone by are available or still working in this “new normal.” One mistake I’ve seen companies make is to keep trying the old things that used to work, long after they quit yielding well in this new world of selling. 

The advantages that technology brings the modern day business professional are phenomenal and few of them were available in the old selling landscape. Yes, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the past and there is no substitution for experience, but experience is to be learned from, then those lessons should be applied to the new tools in the new toolbox. This is the best way to use the past and improve a person’s performance in today’s world. 

If you find yourself frequently ruminating on the past, this is a safe assumption; you are not spending enough time in an excited frame of mind planning for the future. All the re-rehearsing of the past only makes sense if you are looking for great ideas to apply to your future sales and marketing strategies. That is their only “moving forward” value. 

In summary, refusing to dwell on the past promotes better time management and productivity. Refusing to dwell on the past doesn’t mean you are in denial of its existence but it does allow you to keep it in context. To quote Amy Morin, the author, ”If you spend your time looking in the rearview mirror, you can’t look out the windshield.” There is an emotional toll that living in the past exacts on one, so adjust your habits if you find yourself using it as more than just a reference, or fodder for good ideas to apply to the now.  

“We do not heal the past by dwelling there, we heal the past by living fully in the present.” – Marianne Williamson 

  

 

Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks

“Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #18”

Where would the world be without calculated risks? In business, on the battlefield, in relationships, in science…not where we are today, that’s for sure!

JK Rowling, a jobless, single mother on welfare who had been diagnosed with clinical depression, poured hours and hours of her time, with no publisher connection or guarantee, into writing the Harry Potter series. 

Elon Musk dropped out of his energy and physics program at Stanford to pursue business ventures such as X.com and Paypal. In 2002 he established SpaceX and today is pioneering space expeditions with NASA.  

A young engineer named Henry Ford overcame failure after failure before inventing the horseless carriage that could be afforded by Americans called the model T. He is credited with building the first mass production plant.  

Possibly the largest risk-tasker was adventurer Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first person, after several attempts, to make it to the peak of the world’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest. He later made it to both the North and South poles, becoming the only person to accomplish all three. 

Entrepreneurs and sales professionals live in an environment where risk is an environmental fact; it just comes with the territory. The most successful business risk takers know that risk is an inherent part of their world, and also know that being able to take them, and be successful at the best possible percentage of them, is what separates them from the rest of the pack. One thing they know is that risks don’t have to be reckless, therefore they do their due diligence and research before jumping into any situation. 

For the sales professional, there are different types of chances to consider depending on your position in an organization. You can hazard creative, outside of the box, selling ideas to the higher ups, you can change your approach and see how it affects your results, or you can change products. If you are a company owner, you can change your own product or service! The “nothing ventured, nothing gained” mentality it takes to build a history of business experiences from which to learn, is the basic difference between being a true sales person or simply a “clerk” or glorified “order taker.” If you believe, as I do, that sales is a creative process, then you agree that experiments are needed for more valuable data to be mined along your career path. 

One thing to bear in mind is that our level of fear and the level of risk in any given thing are often VERY different. In essence, feelings can be unreliable and many times are without science to balance them out with. Everyone knows that a car ride is more dangerous than flying in an airplane, yet many people feel much more safe in their much more dangerous vehicle. Research and preparation before you try a new pitch (like practicing in the mirror or to your spouse to see how you pull off) are a critical part of the calculation of anything before you try it out in the real world with real time or real dollars invested. 

Let me be very pragmatic – you take a risk every time you get up out of bed. My grandfather once quipped, ”If you go through the whole day without making a mistake it probably means you stayed in bed!” Risk in life is inescapable on an elementary level but in the world of sales, risk taking can be choked off with a lack of willingness to be creative, or to stay in a safe cocoon of a routine to avoid as many mistakes as possible. The tightrope that needs to be walked to avoid too many risks that cause too much loss is that word, “calculated.”  There are any number of cliches that could possibly be invoked; ”look before you leap!” would be a good one in this circumstance, but allow me to add one that calculated risk takers abide by. “If you measure the risk-reward and see that there is a good chance you can hit it outta the park, then by all means – swing for the fences!”   

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone

Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #17”

Being a people-pleaser is a personality type that many people gravitate towards. I know a lot of people without that proclivity (to people please) who steered away from a sales career because they didn’t want to sign up to be a professional ass-kisser. Both of these segments of people were wrong if they thought that selling meant going along with or saying anything just to make a deal. 

Here’s what a good sales pro looks like: helpful and fitting people with the right thing for them. It is more like being the world’s most friendly interrogator than “kissing butt no matter what.” Doesn’t it sound like a terribly exhausting job, to try and please everyone? Now, don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with pleasing a client and that is the end goal, yet, there is a line of integrity one should never cross, which would lead them into the “promising the moon just to get a sale” phase. 

The balance to be pursued is one where a sales pro gets efficient at telling the marketplace what you can and cannot do. This eliminates misunderstandings caused by ill-founded statements and promises. I would err on the side of diplomatically explaining how you can, and are willing to help someone achieve whatever they are wanting, but never enter the realm of telling people what they want to hear regardless of reality. 

Excessive worrying about what people think means some disturbing things. It means you would be willing to sacrifice your values to please someone. It means you are willing to fudge on the truth if need be. Severe people pleasing can mean you think you need to be a doormat, to be spineless. Taking advice from a chameleon is not what most buyers want.  

The best position to operate from is one of sincerity and guiding someone in the best direction for them regardless of their preconceived notions. Positioning yourself as a caring expert with informed and experienced opinions is a much better way to serve customers. The cold hard truth is that most purchasers, if they have any instincts at all, can sense when someone is willing to be insincere and a people pleaser just to write up a deal or get a sale. 

You will be less stressed and healthier if you avoid worrying about pleasing everyone. The dimension of sales that is a numbers game says that different characteristics and personality types gravitate towards those they feel they can trust the most. Worrying too much about pleasing people abandons good character and sells out unnecessarily for the desired result. This does not create a magnet toward you, but a force field that keeps people from that place of confidence and trust and from getting closer to you.

The reality is that your sales encounters and personal relationships will be healthier and more satisfying if you don’t drop your drawers too much to people please. Exchanges full of real people being real with one another is the recipe to endeavor to cook with. So order up a good day, hold the worry please… well, maybe just a little tension on the side for good measure, but not too much, please and thank you.  

“You don’t want to disappoint anybody, but you know, you lose your voice by trying to please everyone.” – Diego Luna

  

Be There When the Prospect Matures     

Some real time, long term, lead follow up thoughts”

I’m taking a short (one blog) break from the ongoing short episode series “Pragmatic Sales Psychology” to address what I believe is an immediate need. Suffice it to say that all of our lives change. New circumstances are a constant. If that is true for us, it is also definitely true for prospects in a lead generation system. Regardless of what you sell, an email service like Constant Contact or Mailchimp (don’t forget my commissions, ya’ll LOL) is a great way to stay in touch with said prospects until that time that their circumstances do change and they fire back up and re-enter the world of active shoppers. It is an opportunity for repositioning once more as the best source of information to the prospect about whatever you sell.

Here is the quicksand; knowing that email marketing is not too expensive and can be effective, TONS of merchants and service providers have fallen into the habit of abusing it and creating a barrier as a result of that abuse. Some corporations really slam you, some become a true annoyance – I guess not realizing that they are shooting themselves in the foot. They should monitor the unsubscribe rate and if it starts to climb, back off, but some folks don’t pay attention to the attrition and keep causing a higher volume of their own volition. NOTICE: too much of a good thing CAN be a bad thing. If you are always running a sale, that IS your regular price… translation: if you’re always screaming you lose your ability to be heard.   

Here is the solution: Use the tool with discernment. Since it is desirable to use email marketing when you have a legitimate sales event (not more than one per quarter I suggest, and two or three times annually is ideal), then you don’t want to create a barrier by, as the old fable goes, crying wolf with a new harvesting attempt every month. 

Here is a formula to consider – Regardless of service or the type of goods you sell, YOU are the expert. Even if you are new and only a week or two on the job, you have studied and know more about what you sell than the consumer. This is the most important card to play. Your job is to get permission to be the concierge on the way to a good decision for every possible prospect and, since “people buy from people they like”, getting them to like and trust you is job number one. Email marketing that abuses the recipients by only asking and never giving, is a blight on the marketing world. It just adds more bricks to the barrier that honest, well-intentioned sales professionals have to fight their way through.  

Allow me to be specific… gather the sales brain trust of your company and build a 12 series (to be deployed monthly) email campaign that educates the consumer and gives them things to look for when purchasing, so they choose the best possible goods and/or services for their needs. Choose aesthetically pleasing art, to be compatible with an approx 2-3 paragraph blog that helps them understand what they are buying better. 

Examples:                                                                                                                                                                        

If you sell patio furniture, blog about things to look for where comfort, durability, design, new collection/grouping ideas, warranties, the emotional health a relaxing outdoor space provides, and choosing the best products are concerned… to name a few topics. 

If you sell flooring, blog about the benefits of durability, a good waterproofing level, proper installation, long term availability of product in case an accident occurs, your habit of customizing estimates to specifically meet a family’s budget needs, the best type of flooring based upon lifestyle and motif, and other positives. 

If you sell pest control, blog about safety, the benefit of having a rapidly responsive company such as yours (testimonials to such an effect would be good here), the value of having a pest control service that is educated to specific strains of pests and how to eradicate them, the most common pest “enemies” in the region, the benefit of having educated eyes on your home* and exterior, the average longevity of your techs compared to the national average, etc.etc.   

If you sell pianos,  blog about the benefits of child development by having them involved in music; blog about mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, and specs they should consider when purchasing a new piano, the specs they should consider most when purchasing a used piano, the entertainment value of technologically advance pianos, etc. etc.

You see the pattern. Create a series that can be re-set annually to stay in front of prospects, with your caring wisdom that positions you as their best choice as a friendly concierge on the way to an important decision. If you refrain from “crying wolf” (“NO, THIS IS REALLY THE BEST TIME TO PURCHASE”, THEN AGAIN THE NEXT MONTH: “NO THIS REALLY IS, THEN THE NEXT MONTH “NO THIS REALLY IS”, BECAUSE OF XYZ… TERMS AND THE LIKE) you position yourself as the expert, and not just another company ALWAYS having a sale. This way when you do have a promotion, these prospects are more likely to trust that it is a real opportunity, and not just you asking them to buy again in a different way.  

Caution: Though this article is about misuse of it, if you don’t use email marketing at all to stay in front of old prospects, you are committing a worse disservice to yourself than if you abuse it because you are losing all the possible sales it can contribute to your revenue.   

Harvesting is fun. Successful harvesting is addictive BUT you must plant, seed, cultivate and water if you want your harvest to be as bountiful as it can be. Yes, there will be sales to be had in the “now” and consumers “ready to purchase right away”, but this article is about those who need to be nurtured with a well thought out email campaign, not one that asks them repeatedly to buy, without gaining their trust and confidence first. Why? Because a large segment of the buying population desires a caring expert who can be trusted to be straight with them. A series such as this will accomplish this to the highest possible degree instead of adding to the barrier and creating unnecessary un-subscribers. 

                                   “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”  – Albert Einstein

*My wife and I had a highly educated pest control specialist in Tucson. He used to go to Rotary meetings and talk about bug biology. He would invite prospects to mini-seminars that he held at different places in town, where he never mentioned the price of signing up for a service with his company. He talked about bugs…scientific stuff about pests, no sales pitch, no closing statement or invitation to sign up. About half the attendees did though. He was highly informed and had a great sense of humor. He’s probably still doing them and probably still the top performing sales person at his company.  

 

Don’t Focus on Things You Can’t Control

 “Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #16”

It is common sense to know that none of us has control over all of the elements and folks around us. There are those who, regardless of how futile it is, try to rope the wind and control all within their realm. Old school sales representatives used to believe that if they took a certain set of “closing steps”, they could control the sales process. It was decades later in the information age when we realized that asking questions was the answer. Sheer force of will and bravado, adjoined with a lack of listening and fulfilling wishes, was pretty common and worked in a day gone by, but rarely does the job today. The truth is, figuring out the things that you can indeed be in control of takes some thought and deliberation.  

I’m going to get clinical for just a moment before we tie it back to selling; In the field of psychology, there is a thing called a person’s “locus of control.” People with an internal locus of control operate under the belief that they have an inordinate amount of control over the things around them and their future. On the other end of the spectrum are those with an “external locus of control” have more of a “whatever will be, or whatever is supposed to be will be” world view. These extremes are very prevalent in the psyche of our society. The third category, the most desired category, is the bi-locus of control crowd. These are those with enough discernment to control what they can and should but realize they have limitations and that external factors, out of their control, can affect the outcome of some things.  

Those with an internal locus of control are not as “devil-may-care”, and many times are the sales managers and CEOs. Many artistic folks, or bread-winners without entrepreneurial aspirations, like to do their thing and let the chips fall where they may. The rare superstar sales professional or entrepreneur is typically that “bi-locus of control” person, who does everything they can to achieve their goals like the first group but also accepts the results with good sportsmanship like those with “external locus of control.” Arriving at a balance in attitude is that place where the bi-locus of control sales person gets to, which allows them to avoid burning out or becoming apathetic… neither of which sound fun.

Focusing on things you have no control over creates anxiety, drains your energy, causes you to judge others too severely, and tries to get you to own blame that doesn’t even belong to you! It is not good for relationships, and excelling at relationships is what sales is all about! Helping fit people with things they want and/or need is the purest definition of good selling. I can think of nothing positive about spending time trying to control things not under (or meant to be under) your control. 

When I was young, an old mentor of mine once said,” try to remember, you can control nobody; the best you can do is influence them.” My bet is that if he had ever been evaluated, he would have been categorized as a bi-locus of control person.   

Give it all you’ve got and let the chips fall where they may. Do your personal very best, but realize that you don’t ever have complete control over the end results. This attitude and approach will allow you an exciting, productive, never boring and stable sales life. 

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou          

Don’t Shy Away From Change

 “Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #15

This is the third in a series of writings, tying back Amy Morin’s principles in her book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” to the honorable profession of being a sales professional. Change is the only constant in life. Life will change whether you want it to or not, so why do so many sales professionals try to get, then stay in a groove, all the while ignoring the advantages of change? Partially because having what they believe is a constant helps them deal with the inherent rejections and disappointments that being in the sales game throws at them. Having at least one thing, the way they do things, that remains intact at all times gives them a sense of security… albeit a false one.  

Then there are the sales pros who avoid having a process at all. They change all the time! They change their approach randomly, shooting from the hip most of the time, while the world around them changes also. This creates a disconnect of energies going about their own separate ways. This approach, having no specific track to run on, is not a good way to connect with prospects or sell either. Having a structure, a process, is good, yet the sales pro who never experiments or self-examines avoids the fact that the world changes, and so must they, to stay in step with the buyers. 

Somewhere in between being fearful of change and spinning endlessly through sales engagements without a process, is where the most productive salespeople reside. 

Since sales is a creative act, you need to get outside the box and your comfort zone with your thinking or you will stagnate and not grow into the most productive you. Many of us senior sales folks had to do so with the tsunami of technology and found that once we quit ducking it and embraced it, we became better at our craft. Younger sales professionals can learn more about people skills and hone their verbal communication abilities. Both of these segments/generations will need to not simply allow but work on changing to be the best version of themselves. 

Being afraid of failing and trying new things is a recipe for getting in a rut and not allowing yourself to grow. Simply because a thing is challenging doesn’t mean it should not be done. This applies to our personal lives as well. Often, our greatest triumphs and self-confidence boosts come from tackling difficult but worthwhile tasks, some of which take years of commitment. Not only should you be willing to change, you should realize that improvement requires it. Positive change leads to increased production, both personally and professionally. Positive energy breeds more positive energy. Positive energy breeds momentum and don’t we all know how important momentum and attitude are to being successful? Embrace it or watch those who do make great things happen around you. Don’t wonder why you’re not making great things happen if you don’t… change is essential to a full and vibrant life.  

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t… It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” – James Gordon 

Don’t Give Away Your Power

 

“Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #14”

This is the second in a series of writings tying back Amy Morin’s principles in her book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” to our honorable profession.    

Depending on circumstances and other factors, your professional frame of mind can cause you to forfeit your selling power. Confidence in yourself and your process must be viciously defended from the world’s onslaught of distractions and irritants. Prospects, co-workers, bosses, family members and random unexpected idiots can interfere with your goals and bust your selling groove. In fact, the world’s current events and anything that gets in the way of your task to find people to serve (qualifying and disqualifying as you go) can symbolize emotional and mental quicksand. To avoid causing paralysis, these things should be placed in immediate context as soon as they are identified as an invader of your honorable mission to serve others, subsequently your family and loved ones. 

“Paralysis by analysis” of irrelevant subject matter is the greatest and most rapid way to forfeit the many skills and positive contributions you can make to your profession. It has happened to all of us but much like a musician who plays a wrong note or a basketball player who bricks a shot, the next note, the next shot is key to getting back on track and to productivity. Obsessing on anomalies and distractions that we have no control over can lead us down a dangerous rabbit hole that its hard to find a way out of. The best policy is to identify these circumstances, categorize them properly and move right back into the activities we know from experience to be successful. If you need an adult beverage at the end of the day to re-live some of your stranger or more challenging experiences, so be it, but inside the work day when productivity is essential, there is no time to be knocked off the train tracks.

I mention the quicksand. Why? I mention it because I’ve seen sales professionals give up their considerable power of serving and convincing folks to do things that are in their best (the prospects) interest by becoming emotionally ensconced in things that have no bearing in the long run. It is truly a time management tragedy which occurs every second to some unguarded soul, just trying to make a living. It is one of those things whose acknowledgment of its existence is critical because like the Boogeyman in a Stephen King novel, unless you look it in the eye, it will continue to exist and come back to bite you in the ass time and time again. The moment you stare it down and say, “No sir, not me, not today”…POOF, it goes away. 

The quicksand is:

When you don’t set professional emotional boundaries, you give up your power.

You become a victim of your circumstances.

You don’t stand up for yourself as you are able by placing things in context.   

You become a passenger, not the driver.

Your self-worth is compromised until you get back to normal. You don’t want to be dependent on how others’, usually unreasonable and unsubstantiated, feelings are.  Your’s should drive, not theirs.

I’ll end with two statements to bring this all home. The first by the writer of the book, Amy Morin, “There are few things in life you have to do, but often we convince ourselves we don’t have a choice. Simply reminding yourself that you have a choice in everything you do, think, and feel can be very freeing.”


And finally I’ll end this with the quote from Dale Carnegie that Amy Morin began this chapter with, ”When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.”

The Devil’s in the Details

Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #12” 

Since Prospects International has a very diverse and expanding client base, I would like to state that this is a psychological, not a theological, writing. Although many of us may believe in the presence of evil forces, this article has nothing to do with religious ideologies and the reference is purely symbolic. I preach about selling, selling and marketing. Relative to spiritual preaching, as Chevy Chase said in Family Vacation, “I’m not an ordained minister.”   

The devil in this context is the symbol of “things that can go wrong”, should you not pay attention to the details of a thing. Your reputation is tied to your client’s experience which is directly affected by your company’s attention to detail. Allow me to give an example or two.

Here’s a couple of common scenarios:

You purchase something for your home, say, a coffee table, which alerts you to the fact that there is “some assembly required.” It ships on time and you lay everything out on the carpet so you can put it together in your den, where it will live. While perusing the parts, you realize that a couple of critical parts were not loaded into the package, and you do not have everything you need to assemble your new piece of furniture. I need not explain the string of inconveniences that come next.   

You use a bookkeeping application for your business, which forces you to use a new, updated version, although you are comfortable and satisfied with the 1.0 version you’ve used for years. The old one has recurring invoices programmed and all of your clients’ payment info stored, along with info of the other parties that need to be cc’d all transactions. The new system comes online and the old one gets discontinued, and you have no option but to go along with the transition. Not long after the new system goes live, you realize you have to reprogram a lot of the previously stored info into the new system. The bookkeeping company’s lack of foresight cost you some serious time; time it takes to get things back to normal, plus some customer service explanations along the way. They should have made for a seamless transition but the coding was never authorized to do such, a detail that slipped through the corporate cracks. The Devil is indeed in the details. They lost several unhappy clients as a result of the inconvenience.

One last example, the most emotionally charged one: You take your wife to your anniversary dinner at that perfect night spot. You call ahead to be sure they have the champagne and cut of filet she prefers. You also have a local florist deliver a vase of fresh cut flowers to set the stage. All should be lined up for a perfectly nostalgic and romantic evening. Unfortunately, the florist writes down the wrong date, the bar manager doesn’t order enough champagne, and the only possible saving grace, the 6 ounce filet being cooked to perfection, ends up medium-plus instead of medium rare…and of course, has to be sent back. Details: the night was less than magic, all because the details you so carefully managed were not, in turn, so carefully managed by the other parties involved.   

My freshman year in high school, I had the advantage of having a great English teacher. Her name was Mrs. Wildman. She was passionate about the language and literature, and it showed in her delivery and commitment to how important she believed it was that young people understand good writing and the classics. I remember seeing a specific word written across one student’s paper when she felt that their effort was not up to par. The word was: slipshod. Here is a definition: (typically of a person or method of work) characterized by a lack of care, thought, or organization. “He’d caused many problems with his slipshod management”

Details are never unimportant where the client experience is concerned. Your attention to detail is the customer’s barometer regarding how much they perceive that they mean to you. From the top to the bottom and all the way back up again, your company culture, and commitment to excellence in what you do, is determined by how much attention to detail you and your people demand of themselves.  

Companies can grow organically from within based upon a commitment to “babysitting” details. Ignored or mishandled details can be very costly. Properly managed details can make you a hero. I would vote that the latter is the desired result. So be on guard against apathy; it is the first cousin of mismanaged details.   

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen – John Wooden 

Inject Authenticity Into Your Selling Interactions

 “Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #11” 

It seems like telling someone to be authentic, which is another appeal for them to be themselves, should not be a topic in a series about sales psychology, but we all remember the old saying about assuming, so this is territory that does indeed need to be covered. Why? For decades it has been the perception of many that to be a good sales professional one must morph into some mystical sales professional demeanor, and although being professional in your approach is the right approach, becoming an alter ego runs in diametrical opposition to the truth. The best person you can be is yourself. As long as you are a decent sort of individual, being “the authentic you” will garner much better results than trying to be who you imagine a high performing sales person should be like.

Years ago, before she got used to hearing my approach and understanding the method behind my madness, my wife asked a sincere question,Why do you spend so much time talking about random stuff and not getting down to business?” This was a very fair question to someone listening in to what should have been a sales/business dedicated conversation. What was I doing? Just being me. If I can’t have fun and get to know people while I work, I don’t want to do it. I have no interest in a dull and mundane existence where I go from conversation to conversation, talking only brass tacks (that is an old cliche, my young friends). Not only would it be incredibly boring and unsatisfying, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as when you prioritize making friends first. 

Do not mistake this writing as a green light to go renegade with random sales activities and shoot from the hip with no methodology. There is a huge difference in being yourself and abandoning best practices to refine the way you sell as far as when to address certain topics, and your chronological approach. The suggestion to be authentic should be applied appropriately during every phase of a sales encounter. It is a recommendation about your general demeanor, not the process itself. 

In an earlier writing, I mentioned how important it is to sell confidence. Authenticity takes away a lot of preconceived emotional baggage consumers may be carrying with them from past sales experiences, where things ended up not being exactly what they seemed to be. Authenticity is the antidote; it can allow confidence to manifest and grow itself.

Being yourself will allow you to connect best with that portion of the buying public that would naturally gravitate to you, and overcome the cynicism of many who wouldn’t. Assuming you are a caring person who wants to accurately identify and sell with care and concern for your prospects needs, please, at the urging of this article, be naked and sincere in your dealings. If you are not, naturally, someone who cares and wants to apply decent people skills (be they in person or virtually) then I would strongly suggest you find something else to do for a living. You would be that person that makes our lives an unnecessarily larger challenge.

“No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Selling Should be Fun

“Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #10”

This never happens: Your neighbor or friend says,” I had the worst experience at Acme Appliances. The sales representative was long winded and a bore. He went on and on about specs and when I want to make a major purchase I don’t care how something it works, I just want to know whomever I buy it from will stand behind it! He went on and on like he just wanted to hear himself talk, even after I decided to buy it. I bought it mostly because it was just the thing I was looking for and my mind was already made up. I don’t know why he ever decided to pick “sales” as a profession because he was just horrible, I couldn’t wait for the experience to be over. You really need to give him a call! Here’s his contact informationlike I said this never happens, Never.

The obvious moral to the story is that if you don’t use question based selling, if you don’t use the “5 Steps to Sales Success” chronological formula, if you make it about yourself and not the customer you serve, you have the capability of becoming this guy!  

Years ago, a guy indisputably on the Mount Rushmore of sales fundamentals, Zig Ziglar, advised us all to “Smile when we pick up the phone because your smile comes through on the other end of the line”- this may be a paraphrase but you get the picture. This, my friends, is also true if you take care to craft your texts and emails with a fun and friendly attitude. Your good nature will bleed right through… that is, if you have a good nature. It is also true in reverse; if you don’t have a good nature, whatever apathetic (that is my biggest pet peeve) or bad attitude you have will come through as well, LOUD AND CLEAR.  

I may be over the top with it but I have a lot of fun selling. If a gate-keeper acts really put-out, I put them on the spot and ask them, Are you having a good day?” It normally occurs to them then that they have been curt with me and most of the time they magically get good natured, so as to prove they’re not having a bad day. 

I inject appropriate humor (that is trickier these days than ever) early on in an exchange, to lighten the mood. It often let’s the other person in the exchange know you’re not a loud-mouthed, pushy sales type going through a script NO MATTER WHAT! It gives them a chance to like you.  

To put rejection in context: If I run into a miserable person, I chalk it up to not knowing exactly what they had going on that day and remind myself that some days it’s harder for me to put on my stage presence than others but here is the trick – you must figure out how to do it! If you want to be a top performing sales person you must put your stage face on. You must focus and after you force yourself to do it for a time, it will become your demeanor and you will work right past the energy you could have been expending on something negative. It will put you in a positive posture. It takes practice, but then if you want to be exceptional at anything, you will need to examine and refine your approach constantly.  

I’m not afraid of rejection or failure. You can’t be, either. You have to dust yourself off like a stand-up who delivered a failed punch line and go on to the next joke. As a young man (many, many years ago), I was disciplined in my approach in that I maintained a chronological order but, in trying to make dealing with me comfortable, I didn’t ever stick solely to business. I went off topic if I heard something fun in the conversation that I thought they would be willing to visit about. I therefore, most often made a friend and then later a sale.

The big boys and polished corporate sales folks in Atlanta at Cox Communications ribbed me all the time about my fun, casual demeanor in district manager meetings. They said I used the “Columbo” technique. The CEO allowed them to make fun of me the first year but when the second year closed and Nashville, and my sales people, had outsold Dallas and Chicago and Atlanta and all the major markets, he told them to lay off until “your numbers are better than his!” They never were. Every year after my first we had the highest closing ratio and highest retention rate in the country for the direct mail ad agency side of Cox. Why? Because I’m so good? Because my sales team was more talented than the others? NOT HARDLY. It’s because we liked one another and were having fun. 

A few years back I worked with a sales professional who now manages a gallery. She was so fun and off the wall with her engagements that I used to like to just listen and notice what new topic she would hear and use to get into a more personal mode with the prospects. She was also an entertainer, so being that entertaining was in her wheelhouse, she was so likable that she was an anomaly. She didn’t always have a structured approach (which is not something I normally recommend) but she was proof positive that a good natured attitude and approach can be wildly profitable, because she consistently made more friends and outsold everyone around her.

Yes, you must use some discernment and stay professional but please, not at the expense of being fun. Fun can’t be programmed or coached. It is something a sales associate either can or cannot do. If they can lighten up and still sell, they should get out of their own way and do it though! Certainly, trying to force it would be awkward, so have fun and be charming in your own personal way, inside your own personality. It’s not a contest, just a posture to allow yourself to adopt. Have fun… I’ll leave you, per normal, with an “on topic” quote to remember. This one is from Bill Murray – Whatever you do, do it 100%. Unless you’re donating blood. (See, you were expecting something profound and full of substance so remember… not everything needs to be)            

 

 

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