The Story of How Sales Made Me a Better Person
I never wanted to learn how to sell. I associated the word „sales” with putting your foot in the door and being obnoxious to elderly people while pestering them with low-quality pans. When I created my company, this association became no more.
After we ran out of money from the investors, the ability to sell the value of our product and the ability to influence our potential client became crucial for our business to survive. I understood that in order to create cool things I need to learn to take money for them, which didn’t come that easily. It’s good that the biggest advantage of working in start-ups is the tempo of learning, and it is incredibly fast.
Good sales process is constant learning how to focus in 100% on the other person. The new approach to sales completely changed me as a person and I needed some time to realise that. My habits, behaviour and worldview have changed. During my adventure with sales, I noticed a huge improvement in seven areas of my life. Here they are:
You will achieve success in sales only when you will walk your client’s shoes. You need to talk to them in their language, you need to understand what is valuable to them and know how to find their pain points. In B2B sales, it is important to understand the motivations not only of the people who want to cooperate, but also of the whole company’s ecosystem. It means also the people who will make our job harder or even will sabotage us.
The world would be a much better place if more of us could see it with the eyes of others, especially those who we do not agree with. From my observation I have concluded that this is what sales is about — you need to be able to use the empathy practised in the professional environment in your private life.
There is a nice connection between being a good salesman and a good father. Paradoxically it has nothing to do with money, but with the ability to convey ideas and values. Raising children actually does help in learning how to sell, because we learn how to “get to” to our lovely offspring, how to explain something to them in a better way. Convincing children to your own views is one of the most popular forms of selling.
The guru of implementing sales processes and the creator of the “predictable revenue” methodology Aaron Ross has five children. Coincidence?
Think how often you interrupt people during conversations. When you ask a good seller why people buy from them, he will surely tell you that it is thanks to the ability to listen. The American author of books on personal development Stephen Covey once said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply”. It is not only the matter of your emotional intelligence, but also of hard work on ourselves.
For many people the words “hear” and “listen” are synonymous. Hearing is a physical process of receiving sounds from the environment. Listening, on the other hand, is an active process which aim is to acquire information from the previously received sounds. Listening, contrary to hearing is connected with effort, engagement and with an active approach.
Fruitful listening is an interpersonal skill, which possess not only good listeners, but also good partners and leaders. Following the thinking process of people we talk to, openness to their opinions, emotions and feelings allows us to effectively gather knowledge, achieve better results at work and build better interpersonal relationships.
As a salesman I help people solve their problems with our product. In the world of sales one can win only when their client wins as well. The client is the centre of the universe. It’s his or her problems that matter the most. Your ideas and what you want to tell matter only in relation to the problems of your client.
When you put on the 1st place your own ego instead of effectiveness, you often lose valuable time and energy. Yours and your client’s. Sometimes it is good to think of oneself as a learner — our client is the expert who can teach you everything you need to know. The only method to be a good friend, partner or parent is the ability to push the ego to the side. Working in sales is a perfect ground to develop that trait.
A good salesman does not see a failed attempt to sell as a failure, but as an investment into the process of learning. They realise that some attempts will work and some won’t, and that is completely normal. If not now, then later. A good salesman knows that every client will need to buy (product X), and that’s the next opportunity. Not here and now, but for sure sometime in the future.
The truth is that most interactions won’t be successful. The history of Roy, an American milk vendor shows it the best. In order to make 45 sales he had to visit 990 homes (4,5% conversion is an actually nice result!).
It is an example which is related both to the sales process and to our everyday life. Mediocre people often give up easily. They want to lose weight, exercise for few days and then stop. My crossfit trainer told me once that in order to be good at something, you need to make a finite number of mistakes. When working in sales you make lots of them. It’s natural.
Perseverant people know that being consequent will result in success. No pain, no gain.
Despite having few years of experience in managing projects and people, I still felt very uneasy when I began cold calling. That was a new type of discomfort, which I had to fight with in order to function well.
People have those irrational fears and emotions, which influence their performance. The part of the brain responsible for these emotions is called “lizard brain” and it is a result of a transitional period in evolution. It is very irrational and difficult to control. In order to get that control, one must constantly focus.
Imagine a long list of clients, and an open Facebook bookmark. Many times did I want to procrastinate and do something else. I had to develop habits to fight with this, because I knew it would stop me from getting good results in my job. Another advantage is to have a habit of planning. If you are not prepared to your work, you will be busy with doing… nothing important, and you will not move forward. It’s the same in life.
Creating relationships is the number one reason why I like sales. I treat my clients as if they are my good friends. I often talk to them about their job, sport, and hobbies before I move to the work-related stuff. After creating a relationship with my client, I learn how our product can help them. I try my best to bring most value to them.
Using the argument of a low price during creating relationships is secondary in importance and is rather risky. The competition can offer a similar offer at a lower price. Creating relationships with your clients motivates you to work constantly on it. It is not the amount of contacts that matters, it is their depth. It is easier to gain a client rather than to keep him or her. Same with friends.
Working in sales forces you to create relationships of good quality. Creating relationships is important for covering your basic needs of safety, identity, and self-development. It stands to reason that creating relationships is a pivotal skill in life, and that skill is certainly developed by working in sales.
Starting, keeping and evaluating a close relationship is similar to a typical sales process (key word — process). Before you find the right person, you will often have to face many failures and hardships, which in sales happens every day. Getting over them is the bread and butter skill for a salesperson :)
When you go for a date, you are being evaluated. Just like a regular client evaluates you during the first contact. In order to focus on the other person, you need to stop focusing on yourself. If you only think about it how the other person sees you, then you cannot show yourself from your best side, because you stop being natural and confident. Working in sales helped me to eliminate the fear of being evaluated.
All in all
New habits (productivity, self-development, and control over emotions) are useful not only in a company. They also have a positive influence on people around me, allowing me to be a better colleague or friend. In order to achieve success in sales you need the right personality. Openness to direct contact, competence, and the ability to communicate are basic skills that will help you have a successful start.
The rest is just a matter of intense work.