Everybody can be a great sales person if they wanted to be. A lot of folks say they’d hate to have a sales career but a lot of folks have simply never tried. We’re all born with the talent to persuade and some folks seem to be more at ease with it. But having a great sales career is much less about the art of persuasion and much more about the grind of preparation. Everything starts with what a new sales guy is taught when he enters the profession, right from how he thinks about the customer.
Everybody is just some guy.
Sales trainers and sales books talk about selling to the C-Level and their cluster of senior executives. Yes, they are the ones who often sign and yes, they are very busy. But unless the guy is a total dork, most senior executives still see themselves as regular guys who are balancing their professional lives with their personal lives. Very few senior executives see themselves as above sales people because every competent exec understands that everybody is always selling. The best execs are those who treat other company’s sales people as they want their own sales people to be treated. Sure, there will always be the one who needs his job title to validate his existence but fortunately the ones who make it to the top are usually just good dudes or the female equivalent. (Dudess? Dudette?)
Everybody is just some guy who is on their way somewhere and work is just a means. When you think about him as just some guy, then you can really get a sense of what’s really important to them. I always ask “What’s considered a good year for you?”. That’s me trying to find out how the guy is measured and what he has to deliver to get paid. Again, like me, he’s just some guy who’s doing his gig, at whatever level, to look after his family or his Porsche. Whatever his motivation, it’s the right one.
Whenever I want to call someone, I do everything I can to find a picture of him or her. No, I’m not a freak stalker. But I want to see what they look like so I don’t fabricate an warranted superhero image of them in my head. In 100% of the cases, they look like some guy I know. Some guy I played ball with or had a beer with. I don’t prejudge their competence based on a pic I found on the internet; I just use their image to remind me that I’m just selling to some guy – some guy who probably has just as many insecurities as I do and some guy who wants to do well for himself, just like I do. So yeah, I don’t care what your title is, you’re just some guy to me. And because you’re just some guy to me, it makes it easier for me to like you, and relate to you and ultimately sell to you.
The new sales guy often sees the sparkling title of a prospect and automatically assumes that somehow competence is tied to the title. And that for every level up, there should be a different level of deference. Dude, stop seeing the other person as a wallet and an obstacle and see the other person as some guy you can help. Whatever their line of expertise, you are an expert in your product or service. You control what comes out of your mouth. The moment you assume the other guy is ‘above’ you, you are trapped in a dynamic where you are the one who is always justifying, chasing and explaining. A good sales person collaborates with the customer on the same level. A weak one takes orders because he put himself below the customer.
Where this backfires!
When you do absolutely no preparation and wing it. When you act overly familiar but haven’t actually presented anything of substance. Buyers respect a confident and knowledgeable sales guy. Nobody respects a back-slapping clown who calls everybody bro and expects a P.O because he took 25% off before he was even asked.
And speaking of losers who lead with price…