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Imagine you’re a master salesperson. Someone that people go out of their way to do business with. Not because you offer the lowest price but because they like and trust you. How would this improve your life and business? How would this increase your level of overall confidence?
Now the million dollar question – what does it take to be that master salesperson?
Success in selling has much more to do with your heart than your head. You could read all the secret selling strategies out there and still miss the most important lesson which is this:
If you want to be a highly successful salesperson then learn to have the heart of a teacher.
The world is awash with pushy self-centered salespeople. Please don’t become one of those. Besides, learning how to sell with the heart of a teacher is mush more rewarding. You’ll feel good about yourself when you go to sleep at night.
My Experience in Sales
I’ve been selling since I was in the 8th grade and won the award for “most magazines sold”. And prior to owning this copywriting business (where I sell with words) I enjoyed a successful sales career at Amica Insurance (ranked #1 in the US for customer service by J.D. Powers).
I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and I’m still learning. I have found that success in selling doesn’t come from what you might think. You see, I’m not a pushy or aggressive type. In fact if you met me in person you probably wouldn’t think I was a “salesman”. And yet my customers tell me how much they enjoy working with me. I’ve received numerous letters and emails from satisfied customers letting me know how much they appreciate me.
I’m not saying this to brag but I want to overcome any misconceptions you may have about what it means to be successful in sales. Too often people believe the myth that you must be some obnoxious, over the top, insensitive jerk to make it big in sales. This is simply not true. Some of the most successful salespeople I know are soft spoken, kind and have the heart of a teacher.
It’s that last characteristic, heart of a teacher, I want to focus on here. I’m going to share three short lessons that if practiced, will help improve your success and credibility as a salesperson.
1. Seek to Understand
This is not natural for most people. We all want to be understood and we constantly think of ourselves. In order to understand your customer you need to stop thinking about yourself and focus on helping them. This will also help you put their interests above your own.
The best way I know how to do this is to ask open ended questions and to be interested in what they say. I spend a lot of time getting to know my customers and many times we end of talking about things that have nothing to do with business. I find a common interest and build on that. Do you and your customer like to fish? Do you both have kids that play hockey? You will never know these things unless you seek to understand.
2. Educate Your Customer
In order for a customer to make the decision that is best for them you need to educate them. Remember we ‘re talking about having the heart of a teacher. What does a teacher do? They educate and share valuable lessons with their students. You aren’t there to control your customers actions. And this is where it gets hard because the temptation will be to manipulate and force you customer to buy from you.
But if you’re serious about taking your selling to the next level you can’t be weighed down by this mindset that says “I have to convince this person to buy from me.” Fear is what drives this type of thinking. Fear that you won’t have enough or that if you truly educate them they may realize that they don’t need you anymore.
To Educate or Not to Educate?
Will you lose some deals because of this? Certainly. If you educate your customers the same way you would educate your brother some people will decide to go elsewhere or do it themselves. For example my brother wants a website for his clothing business. Because I understand how to build websites using WordPress I educated him how he could do it himself. But if I met a customer who was in the same position (needed a website but didn’t have the budget to spend $1,000+ to buy one) I am faced with a decision.
I could tell that customer “Hey, there’s nothing you can do until you save up $1,000.” Or I could educate them the same way I did my brother, “You know, if you’re the DIY type you could actually get a website up for around $150. This includes your webhosting, domain name and a premium theme).
So don’t be afraid of educating your customers. They will remember you because you not only demonstrated your expertise but you also proved you could teach them. That’s called adding value.
3. Do You Believe in What You’re Selling?
Do you remember the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”? Basically treat people the way you want to be treated. If you were in their shoes would you buy what you’re selling? If you can’t answer that with a yes, you may not be selling a product that’s right for you.
In order to be an excellent salesperson you must believe in your product. Otherwise you will continually have an internal battle and while you may make a few bucks you also might get a few ulcers at the same time. Life’s too short to sell things you don’t believe in. Move on to another company or another industry. Personally, I could never sell credit cards to college student because I don’t believe that it’s helping them.
Now you get to practice being a teacher! Aren’t you excited? You get to really help people and at the same time make a profit. This is what they call a “win-win”. But knowledge without action will not help you one bit. You need to practice what you’ve just learned. Set a reminder or write a sticky note that says something like “Have the heart of a teacher.” Keep practicing and internalizing these things until you see the tangible results.
I’d be happy to hear from anyone who is practicing this. Let me know how it’s going by leaving a comment below.
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