You could say that life is one big sales conversation. Whether you’re convincing your potential boss to hire you because you’ve got what it takes, or you’re single and looking for a soul mate, then you want your best qualities to shine through. Perhaps you’re needing to raise capital for your latest business venture and you’re meeting with an investor and need to impress. Consider that everything we do requires getting others on board if we are to make our dreams, desires, commitments, and intentions a reality. Sales skills are a must in some capacity for absolutely every one.
So what makes a kick-ass saleswoman?
Pulling from my conviction to live a life that’s of my design (versus one that someone else intends for me) here’s my take on what to have your eye on to be highly effective at selling:
1. Be Authentic
There’s no magic formula. When you are being authentic, free of judgement—both of yourself and others—and the need to be perfect, your natural passion and energy shines through and you become a magnet for what you want. A magnet attracts things–and providing you’re clear about what you want to accomplish–it will come to you. If you lack clarity about what you want, do the work you need to do to get it clear for yourself. This is crucial.
2. Know your sh*t
Do your research. Whether you’re pitching to a potential client, or asking for a raise at work, be prepared to say why you’re doing this, and what specifically you’re asking for as a minimum. Be clear about what you want to accomplish in your conversations. Then, as counterintuitive as it sounds: let it go.
When we’re attached to the outcomes we want to make happen, we unwittingly kill off the possibility of them becoming a reality.
If you haven’t done your research, be straight about it. Again, being yourself is your starting point.
3. Listen. For real.
As a child growing up with 2 younger sisters and a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, I became overwhelmed by the noise of everyone else’s views and opinions. To survive this and navigate the world, I learned to keep my mouth shut. I became known as the “quiet one”.
Doing less talking meant doing more listening. And so, from an early age, I unknowingly developed the art of being a good listener. Thanks loud family!
When you can fully listen to another person, you can fully be in their world. Being fully in someone else’s world doesn’t mean simply waiting until they finish speaking so you can get your view/opinion across. It means having no agenda—no place you need to get them to—and granting them real freedom to be and say exactly what they need and want to say, and being ok to hear all of it.
When you’re fully in somebody else’s world, you create a bridge for them to cross over into your world, to see and appreciate your perspective.
This can take years of practice, but it’s a practice worth pursuing.
And for me, it all turned out ok! As my mom used to say: “You know Jane, it’s usually the quiet ones that have the most to contribute”. And, of course, she’s right!
4. Stay open to failing
Being willing to fail is one of the most important aspects of being successful at anything—including selling.
I’ve recently finished reading ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho who said, “there is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
How many things in our lives do we never even begin to attempt because we’ve already decided we couldn’t possibly do them and succeed? When you’re in the business of selling, you must be resilient in the face of a lot of ‘no’s’, keeping in mind not to take it personally. The reason for the ‘no’ is what matters. The ‘no’ itself is not. Understanding this can shed light on what was missing in your conversation and help you refine your approach for next time.
- “Was I being myself or was I trying to deliver a sales pitch?”
- “Did I have all the information I needed and did I convey it well enough?”
- “Did I fully listen to what he/she/they had to say?”
With any dream worth pursuing, commitment, focus, and consistent actions are essential. And the key is not giving up. When you fall off the horse, dust yourself off and climb back on. Remember, life is one big sales conversation, and we’re all here to practice.