(About an 8 minute read)
As a former salesperson, I have long known for a fact that most successful salespeople are every bit as good at their jobs as the very cutest puppies are outstanding at selling folks on adopting them.
I mean that in the most encouraging way possible — if you are both in sales, and just as likeable as a puppy, then congratulations! You are almost certainly well on your way to a successful career, assuming you are not already successful.
And let’s face it, almost everyone of us these days is in sales to at least some extent — or when was the last time you had a job that did not require you to persuade someone to do something. Because that’s all selling is — the art of person to person persuasion.
So whether you’re trying to persuade your boss to give you a raise — or more likely, given what I know of my noble and esteemed readers — you are trying to persuade your partner to wear that sexy chicken outfit you just had-to-have and bought at an obscenely inflated price from that ridiculous, young, door-to-door preacher who was wearing it because he was still too shy to preach the Gospel in the flesh — regardless of whether it’s a raise or a chicken outfit, you are in sales. At least, now and then.
In my book, the fact you are in sales means I might be able to help you. No, not with the chicken outfit. If you’ve already gone that far, then not I, nor even a highly skilled professional therapist, is likely to be able to still help you (So, you might as well use it tonight, right? Go for it!).
But to return to the issue: How can I help you become adept in the fine art of persuasion? Simply allow me to point out a vital key to maximizing your likeability.
Be certain, absolutely certain, to use a quality lubricant!
To maximize your likeability, be as real as possible. Be authentic. That’s it.
Yes, you can do a whole lot of other things, and you probably already know what at least some of those things are, but authenticity is both the single most powerful first step you can take, and it is often overlooked — especially by inexperienced salespeople.
You see, a lot of us folks think you must somehow change yourself to be maximally likeable. There’s a little truth to that. If you are doing something obnoxious, then you need to stop, you need to change. But if that’s not the case, then focus on being yourself first and foremost.
Why? I’ve found no better explanation of why than what Tony recently wrote:
…you know how you stubbed your toe this morning and wished damnation onto the whole world? Your prospect can relate to that.
You know that jalapeno you ate and it’s burning a hole in your mouth that’s wider than a river? Your prospect can relate to that.
You know the homegrown excitement your town has for their sports team? Your prospect can relate to that.
Being likeable is simply being a conscience human, doing the right thing and coming across as a real person.
Real respects real – remember that it’s coming across as a real live human – flaws, scars and all is what brings people closer together, not your super cool product with all the gadgets and gizmos!
Show your authentic self and make authentic connections.
Tony is a man to watch: I just quoted from the chapter of a soon to be published book that he gave me, along with some cash, for an old chicken outfit I used to wear while preaching, and I must say: Obviously, he knows his stuff.
Being authentic makes you human, makes you less of a threat (and who isn’t a little bit threatened on some level or another by someone soliciting them
in a chicke?), and in making you less of a threat, allows you to all the more connect with your customer. People don’t buy from people they don’t trust, and they don’t trust people they think are “fakes”.
But people do indeed buy from people they like. In fact, some pretty savvy salespeople have told me that “selling yourself” is not only the key to any sale, but is often all that is really needed to make a sale.
I myself am a little skeptical of that. I know being likeable is something most successful salespeople have in common. And I do know it takes you far – very far — all by itself. But I doubt you could actually build a career on it alone. You need, for instance, a decent product or service to sell. And, among other things, you need to hustle your butt off — there are few substitutes for hard work.
But yeah, being likeable is still key. If you want to be truly successful in sales you will do what you can to be likeable — and generally speaking, the single most important thing you can do is be yourself. Don’t put on airs. Don’t try to change yourself unless that’s absolutely necessary. Just be yourself.
Naturally, some folks won’t like the real you, but the ones that do like you, will like you so much better than any false front you can concoct — unless, perhaps, you’re a professional actor.
However, being likeable will probably not make you a once-in-a-hundred-years salesperson — an extraordinary salesperson. For that you need something more — something so powerful that if you were actually disgusting, but still employed it, you’d have people buying from you.
For complete information on exactly what that is and how you too can master its power to make yourself rich, simply send $29.95 in unmarked dollars and cents to Uncle Sunstone’s Newest Scam, PO Box 69, Charging Bore, Colorado 80103, and include a nude selfie if you suspect you’re my type. Act today, and get a free g-string in the same style as the one I found stuck in my teeth this morning when I woke up in the club parking lot!
Now — getting serious for a moment — some folks are going to think what comes next is easy and simple to do. It’s not, but it can be mistaken as such. In truth, if you decide to go this route, you very much need to commit yourself to getting your nose bloodied a few times. This is not easy stuff to master, no matter how easy it looks, and I can guarantee you will be sorely embarrassed when you flop your first few times in front of a customer.
Then again, let me tell you a true story.
I sucked — sucked — for years as a salesperson. Don’t ask me why I stuck with it, because I don’t really know, but for years I was one of those guys we all know who is eternally on the verge of being fired for failure to perform his job — and perhaps you can imagine how I felt about that!
But I got lucky. I went to work for a corporation that — though small — was one of the most profitable companies in its industry. It had both the money and the will to invest heavily in training its small sales force of about 18 people. So it made a faithful decision.
It went looking for the best sales trainer in the country, and it found Chuck. Chuck’s fee was a flat $5000/day plus expenses in early 1980s dollars. That would be over $12,000 today — for one day’s work.
Naturally, at those prices, my company checked him out. I’m told his references were so encouraging, the company called him within a day or two.
As you might guess, Chuck had been in sales before he went into sales training. His former employer was a Fortune 500 that had been around for over 100 years. Chuck rose through the sales ranks until he was in their top sales position with an annual quota set in the tens of millions of dollars.
Within a short time — no more than three years, if I can recall such a detail now — Chuck had not only exceeded his quota, but had set a 100 year sales record in dollars adjusted for inflation.
The next year, he broke his own record.
The year after that, he broke it again — and this time, he quit. He quit to set up his own consulting business, but not before he was able to lure a senior vice-president away from the Fortune 500 to run the business side. How many senior VPs would risk such a thing?
Chuck was an exceedingly persuasive man, even by the standards of professional salespeople.
But a funny thing happened when Chuck came to train us salespeople at five grand a day: I was just about the only one who took him seriously.
Yeah, I know. You would expect all of us to. But that’s not how the real world always works. Unfortunately, the others dismissed Chuck as trying to teach them an impractical method. Or they dismissed him as trying to teach them what they already knew (but actually didn’t).
Frankly, I myself was far too desperate to ignore Chuck. So I set myself to learning. And my education was helped along by the fact that Chuck apparently took a particular liking to me — probably because I was paying attention. Everyone else got seminars. Several three day seminars. I got the seminars too, but Chuck also convinced the management to pay for his going on sales calls with him. Again, at five grand a day. One on one tutoring. How good can it get?
So what happened?
Well, it didn’t happen overnight. Chuck was no miracle worker. It took me about a year to catch on. By which I mean, it was like learning tennis. You can’t learn tennis — you really have not caught on to it — until you can play a game. Yes, that sounds obvious, but consider. Some people think you can learn to sell by memorizing techniques from a book and then easily apply them to real life situations.
Hogwash. To sell like Chuck, you have to practice, practice, and practice. You have to go from customer to customer well past the point you are sick and tired of screwing up. Then maybe, if you’ve worked hard enough, it starts coming together, it starts clicking.
At this point, my post is already too long for most folks to have read this far. So I’m going to save the rest for another post, which I will publish soon — perhaps as soon as a day or so. Stay tuned! The payoff might be immense. Imagine! Your very special someone could be wearing that chicken outfit to bed with you this very week!