How to sell like a pro
I am constantly made aware, generally against my will, of the difference between a seasoned professional sales person, and an annoying minimum waged buffoon who makes annoyance calls with the hopes of selling you something. The difference between these two types of characters is vast, and not that subtle either. If you want to become a better sales person, it pays to make a study of the difference in the mentality and style of a professional verses that of a nitwit.
Portrait of a nitwit
The numskull salesperson looks at the clock, tries to calculate how many calls they can squeeze into a slot of time. He will calculate how long each call takes and what his chance is of making a sale on each call. The novice will not know his product well, and will not listen that much to the prospect either. This beginner type will come across as awkward, annoying, and not much more than a nuisance. Despite all of the calculations, this type of salesperson will probably make between minimum wage and $40,000 per year which is a very low salary for a salesperson. He will lack an understanding of psychology, marketing, and matchmaking (which product works best with which client, etc).
Portrait of the James Bond type salesperson
A seasoned professional has a very different way of looking at sales. There is no hurry, no desperation, and the calculations of how long calls take and the likelihood of success on any particular call are statistics he knows well, but doesn’t DWELL on all day long. The seasoned salesperson is like the smooth and well-dressed guy who attracts girls without even opening his mouth — half of the work is done purely on demeanor alone! The seasoned pro is confident and cool. He speaks with a strong, but not overbearing voice (I’m generalizing a caricature). He has little nuances in his voice and is irresistably personable and intelligent. This guy can chat with you and get to know you. He will figure out where your buttons are during the chat, and then move towards the sale later. Timing is everything. Rather than reading a script and talking endlessly, he will be much more interested in LEADING the conversation and getting to know you — or at least getting to know what he needs to know about you and your company. He will move from small talk to different subjects, you might talk about your baseball game, and then move on to how your business is going. After talking and introducing his products and services to you, he will continue to be very smooth, and reserve his pressure tactics until the critical moment. Perhaps he will mention some dangerous risk associated with not being under his company’s care. He might mention how his competitor’s overlooked some critical aspect of their work which cost a particular company millions, and how going with a company other than his might cost more than you have, or even put you under water!
The exact timing and tactics vary from industry to industry, but a beginner salesperson needs to understand the winning mentality and play the part convincingly too. If you train salespeople, you need to understand the mentality too, and how to teach it. Some people just are not made for this type of career, so pick your sales people well!
But, there is more to the profile
I have made it a practice to watch and notice things. I notice people and their behavior, and where it gets them in life. Why does one person end up in a mansion while the other ends up in a homeless shelter? How they think and what type of habits they have influence where they end up quite a bit. The personality of the minimum wage salesperson is that he will memorize some sports scores and be able to make some very primitive conversation about his favorite sports team. He will know about burgers and tacos, but his only knowledge of cuisine will not go further than the basics of his favorite artisan brew. The James Bond type salesperson will know about the sports teams, not necessarily out of interest, but because he NEEDS to be able to speak the language of his clients. If his clients speak sports, then he speaks sports. If they like music, he talks about music, etc. The sophisticated salesperson will often understand much more sophisticated aspects of business, accounting, culture, politics, fine wine, world cuisine, and be able to talk about any type of topic — shallow or deep. This saavy type will not stress over particular sales. He is making at least $200,000 per year, on a bad year, and is simply too cool to perspire over small things like a petty two million dollar deal.
I always like to talk about my neighbor who speaks five languages. He will have breakfast in Singapore, lunch in Japan, and Dinner in Arabia chatting up millionaire business people in a variety of tongues. He can talk about any topic in any language ranging from sports to politics, music, art, travel, and more. His sales are typically in the million dollar range and he fits the part of what I call “The gentleman of the business”.
I wrote another blog entry about annoying call center workers. There is a very culturally relevant passage about Arab and Jewish business traditions which involve a lot of what Jews call “Schmoozing”. It is a great extension of this subject matter… In any case, a seasoned salesperson is at home just chatting with clients while sipping on a glass of wine while wearing a $1000 Armani suit. He is not bothered or pressured by his need to close a deal. He is much too cool for that. He understands that people like to make purchases from people they (1) Know, (2) Trust, and (3) Have confidence as a source of accurate and helpful information. The socializing as pleasant as it may be, is merely a means to strengthening the client’s confidence in the salesperson and the relationship. Short term lowly paid screwball salespeople will never get to this level, and will never understand it either!
(1) He did million dollar deals without a single drop of perspiration!
(2) A portrait of a nitwit: clock-watcher, ignorant about his product, awkward, annoying, and little more than a nuisance.
(3) The James Bond type salesperson: he wouldn’t be shaken, he wouldn’t be stirred. He keeps his cool, no matter what!
(4) Portrait of a Pro: there’s no hurry, no desperation & he instinctively knows if the deal will go through early on.
(5) The seasoned pro salesman: He can chat w/you & learn where your buttons are so he’ll know where to push and how hard!
(6) The seasoned pro will learn things beyond his selfish interests in order to relate to his clients on a personal level.
(7) The pro sees the big picture. He sees the value behind really bonding w/a client. #schmoozing
(8) Are you seen as knowledgeable, trustworthy & a source of accurate information? If so, many will buy from you!
You might also like:
Annoying call center workers… (and the art of schmoozing)
Does your company have testimonials from happy clients?
The power of knowing people in outsourcing
Capitalizing on the shock factor in sales