How do I jump start my selling skills?

by Sam on August 17, 2010

One-Minute Answer:  American Psychologist William James once said, “Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that ensures the successful outcome of our venture.”


Whether you’re selling an idea to your boss, a product to a retail customer, or a personal service to a client, James is saying to get inspired. Become so convinced of victory that the chances for defeat fade away. Norman Vincent Peale’s all-time classic The Power of Positive Thinking says as much.


So how can you gain the self-assurance that you need in order to influence people to buy your ideas, products, and services? I’ll leave that to others with more impressive credentials and pithier advice than mine. To warm up let’s start with the words of one of my departed sales heroes, Alan Cimburg. He loved to remind apprentices that, “Your prospect will never get more excited about your product than you are.”



Five-Minute Answer:  Here are the best ideas I’ve ever heard about selling. Which among them encourage you the most?


“If you don’t have a selling system of your own when you are face to face with a buyer, you will unknowingly default to his system.”  ~David Sandler

[Study psychology, communication, and the techniques of selling. Convert that learning into a system that complements your style and personality, and remember that...]


“Each mind has its own method.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

[…the system that works for you may not work for me. Do your thing.]


“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction.”  ~James Baldwin

[Get as much feedback as you can from customers, colleagues, family, and friends. What dress best complements your body image? How do you come across in selling situations? What are your biggest assets and detractors? Why did you really lose that last sale?]


“The body says what the words cannot.”  ~Martha Graham

[Don’t make another sales call until you get a video tape of what you look like walking into a prospect’s office.]


“I want to be remembered as the ball-player who gave all he had to give.”  ~Roberto Clemente

[Of all the careers out there, few require as much sacrifice and hard work as sales. Are you up for it?]


‘Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have so spend it wisely.”  ~Kay Lyons

[It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s fun to do at a given moment rather than ask ourselves, “Is this the best use of my time right now?”]


“When one door is shut, another opens.”  ~Miguel de Cervantes

[That “no” you just heard may open any number of doors. Guilt may move the buyer closer to saying yes next time. Hopefully, you learned something of value. Plus, you are now one less “no” away from your next “yes”.]


“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”  ~Dale Carnegie

[You’ll occasionally convince someone to adopt a new behavior or a new product because of measurable, rational benefits; you’ll more often win them over by appealing to their need for greater self-worth.]


“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; the pessimist fears that this is true.”  ~James Branch Cabell

[Buyers can’t wait to get pessimists out of their presence.]


“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life unless I decide to buy something.”  ~Jackie Mason

[Learn upfront whether a prospect can afford to adopt your idea or buy your services so as not to waste that person’s time and so as not to provide free consulting when you outline your recommended solutions.]


“Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm.”  ~Malayan proverb

[It’s when lulled into a sense of security by a friendly prospect that we become most flustered by a daunting objection or a question from hell.]


“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.”  ~Claude Lévi-Strauss

[Had there been room for only one quotation on this list, this would have been the winner. Ask questions that keep the prospect talking at least 70% of the time so that person will feel closer to you and, more importantly, will reveal the pain that he or she hopes your solution will ease.]


“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked what I thought, and attended to my answer.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

[Prove that you’re really listening the 70% of the time that the prospect is talking by having the first words in your comeback either paraphrase or refer to what that person just said.]


“No one can make a profit producing anything unless the customer makes a profit using it.”  ~Samuel Pettingill

[Do you want to be more successful at selling ideas, products, or services? Here is the most important transformation for you to make. Enter your prospect’s presence with only one goal in mind—to help that person become simultaneously less painful and more successful. Forget what you and your company may get out of a “yes.” Think only of what you can do for the prospect—of course within the bounds of a good business decision for you and those you represent.]


“The best customer to have is the one you’ve already got.”  ~Dick Shaaf

[Build credibility with your boss on a daily basis, and you’ll be amazed at how easily your ideas will be embraced. Serve your direct reports and they’ll pay you back with equally good service. Show your customers how important they are to you and they’ll remain a reliable source of business.]


Enough Said:  Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.”  ~Johnny Carson

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