Willy Loman has nothing on Me
I have a confession to make. I am not and never was a salesman. Yes, it is true that for the past 40 years or so, I've held a sales position of one kind or another. However, I don't consider myself to be in the sales verticle.
Throughout my life, I have always liked helping people. As a result, I would donate my time, manage a group, or offer one of my skills to a worthy cause. In other words, I made myself available to others if they asked. Don't get me wrong, I was selective in what I would agree to, but I would also stretch my perceived ability to what I thought was possible.
For example, as I continued to grow in my career, I'd often take on new jobs that I knew would be challenging. In other words, I was over my head at almost every new job I took. It wasn't that I thought it would be easy;
I had more of a sense that I could handle the challenge. Based on these decisions, I could now look back and see what I had accomplished. Experience is the best teacher; for me, it was the only way I could truly learn what I preferred to do in the way I wanted to do it.
So, why does a career salesman not see himself as a salesperson? Easy, I prefer to help people achieve a vision or goal they have. My perspective is that curiosity about someone's true goal will lead you to ask the right questions.
Here is the trick: you have to know why you are helping them in the first place.
No time to Train
I've had several jobs where I didn't understand what I was selling or why someone needed it. In corporate America, there are many sales terms for products and services. As a result, learning complex solutions or intricate products relies on how good a teacher you have explaining the form and function. It was my experience that good teachers are hard to find. I liked talking to existing clients and asking them how they use your solution and why it was my best approach.
Over the years, training has been less of a strategy for corporations. I learned several solution and value selling styles and Business Process Management selling to improve my sales performance (sold deals). I believe these and other frameworks can help you become a good salesperson. However, they will never make a great salesperson.
You will build more meaning and understanding by employing your genuine curiosity in a sales opportunity. Above all, meaning is everything. No amount of sales training can replace true personal connection and understanding. As a result, when you are in a first meeting (discovery call) with a prospect (someone you want to sell to), you will ask questions based on the information the candidate wants to share. Being curious, you'll be able to pivot your line of questions quickly and accurately. Your answers will align with your product or service, or you'll know there isn't a fit and move on.
Everything is Coming up Rosie
As a side note, this works in personal relationships too. The second you remove the need to have something or someone, you free yourself to receive precisely what you need. I know that is easier said than done for most people. I'm here to tell you it is easy. You just have to believe or know all things work out for you. Don't believe me? Ask yourself this question; when in my life has it not worked out for me? To be clear, I'm not saying you get everything you want, the way you want it. However, you have always been taken care of, no matter what.
Now you have the building blocks for what I refer to as selling with love. The word love is not the relationship version. I look at real love as unconditional. That is to say, nonjudgment for yourself and others. When you are in this mindset, no thing or person can distract you from being present. In addition, you can take your curiosity and lack of expectation to the next level.
So let's go back to the discovery call with your new prospect. Before you get on your Zoom call or ride up the elevator, stop and take three big deep breaths. Why? Doing the breath work brings you back to the present moment. What do you mean? As you're getting ready for the call, your mind is telling you everything you don't know how to answer. Your thinking, brian, is saying this call could be a waste of time. The prospect probably doesn't even have a budget for my product or service.
It's just a Breath Away
When you focus on breathing (something most of us take for granted), you can't focus on all that may go wrong. You are now, for the first time, fully present with your brilliance. No one thinks you are bad at your job. You're not a disappointment to your parents, and you are not focusing on the lack and limitation of your thoughts. You are perfect, just the way you are.
The prospect comes on the Zoom, you say it is nice to meet you, and your message is received with the energy you give. No expectations, just a discovery call to learn more about each other. How does that feel for you? We put so much pressure on ourselves and don't notice it until our bodies tell us. Yes, aches and pains, disease, and just plain old getting sick is our body's way of saying you need a break now. That is to say, take some time off or just slow down and recover.
Now you are ready to proceed. As a result of being present and curious, you see that the conversation with your prospect is going well. The questions you ask are not just to lead back to your offering but to inform you on what precisely the client is dealing with on their side of the call. What, you didn't consider that the client has constraints on their end too? Yes, I like to find out what they may be challenged with as they try to solve their needs.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Here is an example of a client I recently helped. The client wanted my service but was conflating (two or more ideas) about what I was offering with another service a different business unit was already using. At first, I was unaware that this was her focus. However, the more questions I asked, the clearer it was to me that she would have to sell the idea to the C - suite (executives) of her company. Two thoughts came into my head during the call. First, we can't compete head to head with this other business unit's solution based on their years of experience. Second, I needed to explain my company's fundamental differentiator clearly and concisely.
Above all, I needed to be honest (no fear) with her. I told her we'd lose if we went head to head with the other business unit. I made this statement of truth, but I also verbally included my company on her team. Furthermore, I stated that we'd (I did it again) miss the opportunity to explain to her executives why we weren't better but different. My approach was twofold. I wanted her engagement, and saying we'd lose the deal got her full attention. However, I didn't want to criticize the established BU's current good work. I explained how my company could add value above and beyond what they currently do in a unique way.
My prospect was excited about solving a problem, and her peer was also on the call for support. When I finished speaking, he asked her if she was recording the meeting. She said yes, and he asked me if they could use my approach for their sales pitch. Of course, I said yes, and told them if they needed any help from me, I'd be happy to support them. Two months later, I won the deal for the max amount. I did not need to negotiate on price, no net 60-day billing, and payment was on receipt of the invoice. The win was effortless and with love.
Sales from Love
In summation, when you come to the present moment (breath) and leave your limiting beliefs behind, you free yourself from pressure (lack). As a result, you can tap into your curiosity and learn more about the person and their needs (love). Ultimately, you'll be able to know if you can be of service or not before you end your first call.
When you fully understand that you are already perfect, and you don't judge yourself, you know you have the power to create.