When thinking through the topic of selling, many thoughts cross my mind. Herb from WKRP in Cincinnati; Willy Loman; telemarketers; and all the cross-selling cashiers we encounter every day asking, “Would you like two chocolate bars with your gasoline today sir? They are on sale.”
My opinion is that there really isn’t a whole lot of anything new in sales since Dale Carnegie wrote How to win friends and influence people, so writing something about selling doesn’t come easy. Since we know what I think about what’s new…let me review a few concepts that are old, important and great principles for anyone looking to increase sales.
First impressions are very important but this principle has more to do with blowing the sale than making it. You need to ask effective questions and use active listening skills when selling. The objective is to get the other person talking, and I think that is hard to do when you are rambling on with your 30 second elevator pitch.
Selling is a process about helping others get what they want and need. You have to be ready to try and be helpful, and you cannot be helpful until you have a clear understanding about what the other person is trying to accomplish; what obstacles they are encountering; and where they want to be eventually.
Once you have this information, helping them accomplish their objectives is easy and if you’ve done this properly, the only remaining aspect of selling to discuss is asking for the business. It never ceases to amaze me however, how often this final aspect of sales is overlooked.
I try and re-read How to win friends and influence people every few years and am always reminded of some basic principle that I am currently failing to apply. Human nature is to do what is easiest, and sales is just hard work.