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)            



Jack Klinefelter
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