I published a post a few months ago about sales. Even though this is a marketing blog, I realize that selling is part of my everyday life and in my job as a marketer. Pitching an idea I want my boss/a client to buy into through to selling myself in an interview (for a job or to a prospective mate) I am selling.
I was driving a few weeks ago and heard an author on CBC radio (public radio in Canada) being interviewed about sales. The author – Daniel Pink – was there to promote his latest book To Sell Is Human. Pink is also the author of Drive – a book I enjoyed last year about what motivates us. His premise this time is that we are all essentially in sales in what he calls non sales selling. Daniel suggests that we regularly “persuade, influence, cajole and convince” at work and or at home. I am waiting for this book to arrive but wanted to share a few really interesting points from the broadcast.
Buyer Beware…No SELLER Beware
Information asymmetry no longer exists. We know this as marketers thanks to the explosion of social media. Information is not hidden or hard to find. In today’s age buyers have significant access to information and lots of options to purchase, so the seller is the person on notice. It’s no longer buyer beware according to Pink but seller beware.
A B C – Always Be Closing
Sales has changed from the days of WKRP’s Herb Tarlek or Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross (if you want some fun, have a peak at the excerpt below from the movie. No wonder the latest rendition is a roaring success on Broadway right now). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCf46yHIzSo
Sales has changed so much that Pink has a new take on the famous ‘ABC’ acronym for ‘Always be Closing’:
A: Atunment (sp?)- You must learn how to take someone else’s perspective (so you can understand what they truly need from you)
B: Buoyancy – There is a tremendous amount of rejection in sales and to survive, you have to find ways to deal with it
C: Clarity – Instead of being a problem solver for clients, be a problem finder. Find a way out from a murky situation or make your client aware of something important they did not see and you will be golden
I have taken some sales training over the past few years as a marketer with business development in my responsibilities and I really like the point about problem finding. Asking good questions and helping a client see an opportunity to do something better is a sure winner to build more trust and sell more of whatever you have to offer.
Extroverts Make Better Salespeople … Right?
Daniel points to some about to be published research by Adam Grant (a superstar management professor from Wharton) that shows the correlation between extroversion and sales performance is close to zero(!). Along the introvert-extrovert scale of 1-7 (1 being an introvert and 7 being an extrovert), the best sales performers are in the middle – the 3s, 4’s and 5’s called ambiverts. A die-hard introvert won’t have the confidence to ask the right questions, make a personal connection or steer the conversation towards a sale. On the other end of the spectrum, an extrovert is no better. Have you been in front of a true extrovert? Could you get a word in? Did they even listen to you/understand what your problem is? No and that’s why they aren’t great salespeople either. Ambiverts are the best because they can calibrate their reaction. They know when to listen and when to talk.
The good news for all of us who fall between quiet wallflowers and the person who can walk into a room full of strangers and enjoy meeting everyone is that we are the natural born salespeople.
I Think I Can…I Think I Can…
Is taking a page from Oprah or Tony Robbins a good idea for salespeople? Instead of using affirmative, positive self talk (i.e. saying to yourself I am going to close this Sale, I am going to close this sale), Daniel says it’s better to ask yourself the question ‘Can I do this?’ Why? Because a question is a more active statement and you are more likely to put some thought into your meeting and how to best prepare for it (research the company; write a list of questions down; make sure you are meeting the right person; prepare for expected objections). Or decide it’s a lost cause and focus your efforts on better leads.
When you have a few moments (podcast is 20 minutes long), try the link below. Or you can pick up his book To Sell Is Human online at Amazon or Chapters.
Dr Adam Grant