Sales is the world’s oldest profession, contrary to the old saying. It is also happens to be the world’s only profession. Everything is about selling in today’s world, everything from casual interpersonal relationships to gaining acceptance into a group or institution. That’s because sales takes ideas about human connection and it harvests them, inspects each, and spits out maxims that help gain the ultimate prize: trust. So what are these core tenants?
1. People do actually just buy people.
A lot of people see department store jobs as not being ‘sales’, since a person is salaried, and isn’t motivated to necessarily engage with a customer. The line “How can I help you?” tends to be fairly frequently mocked in sales seminars, as the answer in every self serving salesman’s mind is that yes, this customer needs the help, needs interaction to make an informed buying decision. But what is missed in this crude creation of a salesman hierarchy is that each of these individuals creates a mark in every customers' mind. If this mark is negative, if it sinks into someone’s mind in a disappointing way, then the chances of the person buying something from that place goes down dramatically. People buy people and nothing else.
2. Everyone can sell anything.
Some may snap at this and believe it fundamentally untrue. But hold on Mr. Wall Street. It’s just to acknowledge that if you continuously apply yourself by simply greeting people and giving information, you will ultimately sell something at some point, no matter what you’re selling. Good Ole Gil Gunderson from The Simpsons just isn't real: not everyone will reject you. If you never consciously seek to improve your presentations, your pitches, your tactics, you will still sell something. Even if you’re shy, quiet, nervous, and harboring debilitating body odor and breath…at some point, you’ll meet someone who actually finds that endearing, in a 'Oh, I remember Middle School' kind of way. While this particular fact doesn’t assure you of a high percentage of success, it does defy the possibility of abject and horrid failure and it does away with the illusion that a salesman needs a certain ‘type of personality’.
3. You're always selling at least two things: yourself and your product.
When it comes to you, the best and easiest way to promote yourself is to simply relax. Take a deep breath, steady your hand, and put on a smile. Adopt open and easy body language, which means loose limbs and a body that doesn’t guard itself through crossed legs and arms. Invite the world at every point by standing up straight and looking everyone in the eye. The question of being clean shaven and having short hair and nice shoes is up to you. The most important thing is your ability to draw people in with your beaming smile and relaxed body language. But it does warrant mentioning that having a few days old beard, long hair, and scuffed shoes will ultimately make some people actively look down on you and consider you unprofessional. The only thing people want to buy from the hippie down the street are black market goods, so unless that's your trade, you should clean up.
4. You need to find a connection between yourself and the product that you sell.
The best way to create this connection is to buy the product yourself. By doing this step, you create a real emotional relationship with what you sell and you’ll have a far better idea about how your product can benefit an everyday consumer. Everything that you experience in your ownership becomes a valid benefit. You can then use your ownership as a casual anecdote that will also function as a sales pitch.
If you can’t afford your product, come up with at least three or four things that you legitimately enjoy about whatever you’re selling and how it could emotionally benefit you. This path is harder, since it requires projecting ownership rather than naturally observing the fruits of buying. But it provides you with a chance to be really creative, as perhaps you’ve just realized that if someone were to buy this product, then little Johnny’s college fund could get more attention. Do you really not want your son to go to college? Remember that the key in describing benefits is to reason emotionally, not necessarily follow a logical train of thoughts.
5. Objections are usually nonsensical
In the case of objections, you will need to follow a different track from before. While in your sales pitch, you are seeking to appeal to irrational human tendencies of judgement and emotion, facing objections requires you to become intensely rational and logical. Why is that? It’s mainly because people’s objections tend to be superficial reasons covering up deeper and unvoiced concerns. Your job, then, is to find out exactly why they don’t want to buy the product through a rational line of questions. For instance, if they say the product is too expensive, then follow this line of thought. You need to discover if their unvoiced concern is an actual lack of funds or an inability to see the value of your product. Are they saying they can never see themselves paying that much for your product? In that case, they question the value of your product and may very well have the money. Once you find their hidden fear through your questioning, then you address it with an outpouring of emotion. It's too expensive? Well, that's exactly the reason you should get it. True class can't be found in the dollar store! And do you really want Johnny to go to college looking...poor?
6. Rapport doesn't always need to come first
Convincing your prospect that you're not the Devil's henchman can come at any point in the process. A good deal of seminars will train salesmen to create rapport at the beginning, to get defenses down and make the customer feel at ease. But suddenly fostering rapport after an objection can be very effective in dismissing a hidden fear. It switches the prospect's attention and puts you into the spotlight instead of their worry. The point of rapport is really to just find a connection between you and the person opposite. It can be as simple as "I own the same brand of shoes." Don’t overdo rapport though: you’re a salesperson and too much small talk can raise the other party's suspicion. Let's be honest, your salary depends on you sticking your hand in their wallet.
Salesmen can often fall into relying on luck, on just hoping that someone will buy from them naturally. In order to increase your closing percentage, you need to methodically work on your self presentation, your pitch, and your ability to handle objections and build rapport. After building a good fundamental base, you will be able to move onto advanced tactics and learn how to deal with difficult negotiators and customers.
Do you have some more tips? Add your voice to the guide with a comment!