There are so many misconceptions about what sales really is, that today I want to make a post officially addressing what sales is, and what it isn’t.
This is coming from an actual practitioner.
I actually make my living off of direct selling, and I am doing it until TODAY.
Not 30 years ago, not 50 years ago, but today.
What I’ve realized in teaching sales and sharing my knowledge is that like many things in life, most people have an inaccurate understanding of what sales is.
This is primarily due to the “misinformation” portrayed in movies.
A bit of a sidenote – but ever since my early 20’s I became really aware of just how much of an impact the media has on shaping the unconscious biases people have.
These are the same “unconscious biases” that have been brought to light due to recent events.
Something comes to mind that I once read by Bruce Lee.
He mentioned that sometimes growth is not about addition, but about subtraction.
It means not necessarily “learning more,” but first “unlearning” the FALSE things you’ve once accepted as truths.
This post is a dedication to that for sales, here we go:
In order to influence someone, you must already know what influences them.
This is one of the most powerful truths you’ll first need to understand.
But again, my guess is that upon reading that, you already have some sense in your gut that it’s the truth.
We can’t just come out of the blue with random ideas and hope they will work—that’s stupid.
It is much more effective to first get an understanding of what this person cares about, what moves them, what makes them tick, and what are their deepest desires…
…and THEN use those things as the raw material for your conversations.
Because guess what?
If they just told you that their greatest dream is to live in Hawaii 3 months out of the year… and they’ll do anything for it…
Then you know exactly will motivate them.
You use THAT as the basis for your “sales conversations.”
Now, the natural extension of that is that “it’s not about talking, it’s about listening”
In order to understand, you must listen. So CONTRARY to what MOST people think sales is about… it’s actually about listening.
It’s really counterintuitive in this sense… because for the most part, salespeople are portrayed as outspoken, gregarious people, who don’t ever seem to have a problem with running out of stuff to say.
But the truth is that great salespeople do MOST of the listening.
They just do.
That’s just how it works.
You need to understand people like we just mentioned, but you also need to make people feel understood.
You don’t make people feel understood by blabbering your mouth off, you make people feel understood by LISTENING.
That’s what people mean by the term active listening.
Some people will tell you to nod your head, and throw in a few “mhm’s” to make it seem like you’re really listening…
But if you will just genuinely listen, all that stuff will happen naturally anyway, that’s just how humans are wired.
So be sure to focus on first principles.
That is – focus on what’s most important in its essence.
Let me ask you a question:
When do you think understanding people to help them will go out of style?
NEVER!! That’s when!
Helping people will never go out of style.
The old cliche is true… that in order to get what you want in life, you must help other people get what they want.
Most inexperienced salespeople think sales is about features.
As a result, they will often feature dump and spew out a bunch of facts and figures thinking that’s what it takes to “sell” someone.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that no one really cares about your features or product.
The only thing they care about is what it will do for them.
The good ol’ WIIFM (What’s in it for me?)
That’s the question you need to answer.
Remember that it’s never about your product, but it’s about the benefits your product or features can bring to your prospect.
It’s ALWAYS about the benefit.
A good analogy for this is the drill analogy.
Let me ask you a question:
Do people buy a drill because they want a drill?
Is that what people want when they want to buy a drill?
Of course not!
You know that people don’t buy drills because they want a drill, people buy drills because they want a hole!
That’s the difference between features and benefits.
The drill is a feature – an aspect of a product.
But no one really cares about that, they just care about what the product can do for THEM.
In this case, the customer buys a drill because they want a hole in a wall, not a drill.
This is a key concept you must understand if you’re looking to master sales.
Not only is sales a listening game rather than a talking game…
But sales is also an emotional game more so than a logical game.
Don’t get me wrong, you need BOTH to win a deal.
You need the emotional buy-in AND the logical check-off.
But in reality, sales is MOSTLY an emotional game.
What does this mean?
It means that when your prospect goes to buy something, regardless if it’s a new Gucci sweater, or sports car, or even if it’s Enterprise software or a Prius…
The truth is that people buy for EMOTIONAL reasons.
We humans are very emotional creatures. We also like to lie to ourselves a lot—that’s just the truth.
We make decisions based on emotions, and typically JUSTIFY those decisions with some sort of logic.
That logic can be sound or can be faulty—and sometimes we might even lie to ourselves just so it sounds like a good decision!
That’s why in B2B sales, or any sale… you must first sell emotionally and get the emotional buy-in.
Once your prospect is “emotionally bought in,” and they are super excited about implementing your product or service…
THEN it’s time to add a little bit of logic to tip them over the edge.
You see, when someone is emotionally bought in, all they need is a little logical nudge to help tip them over into becoming a customer.
This little nudge can often take the form of a business case or a layout of costs vs. ROI.
Once your prospect is emotionally bought in, you typically just need to show them how the numbers work out in their favor for the deal to happen.
At the end of the day, sales is about helping people.
Helping people will NEVER go out of style.
This is the number one piece of advice I give to beginner salespeople.
I tell them that the most important thing is to understand that sales is not like anything they have seen in the movies.
It’s not about swindling people, pulling a fast one over people, handling objections, or using high-pressure closing tactics.
It’s not about any of that.
Sales is truly just about helping people.
It’s about solving people’s problems and providing solutions.
If you can do that, you’ll succeed in sales.
Oftentimes growth doesn’t mean addition, but subtraction.
To learn, you must first unlearn.
Once you’ve forgotten all the BS you’ve been fed about what sales is, you will realize that sales is truly just about helping people.
Sales is just about providing value.
If you can provide massive value to everyone you come in contact with…
Chances are that you’ll be one heck of a good salesperson.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling cars, Boeing Jets, enterprise software, or cell phones.
Your job as the salesperson is to provide value—to be a resource for the buyer.
In a private mastermind called the Arete Syndicate, Andy calls this concept “Being the GUY (or GAL)”
And being the “guy” or “gal” means being someone that other people rely on as a resource.
Think of someone you know who is uber-connected, who everyone calls when they need something.
THAT’S who you want to be for your prospects.
The super über connected friend who will get them whatever they need.
Someone who can solve their problems, no matter what it is.
That is definitely the attitude to have. That’s a winning attitude.
The thing is…
When I tell beginner sales reps that I can see their eyes glaze over and they think they get it… they don’t really get it.
I know it sounds like a no brainer, but when you put it in practice, you have no idea how big of a game-changer this is.
But my hope in telling them this is that, later on…
Sometime down the line, they will remember what I said.
They’ll have an epiphany that causes them to change their entire way of selling and lead them to a breakthrough.
Like most things, sales is really easy once you “get it.”
You may think you get it, but until you’re doing it consistently and proficiently, you WON’T truly understand.
I hope this post was helpful.
As always, if you found this post helpful… share it with a friend!
Doing so will motivate me to exert more time and effort into sharing my knowledge with the world…
So share it with a friend who you think might benefit as well!
That would be tremendous.
See ya soon.