Every day, I hear from someone who calls themselves a "software salesman" or an "insurance saleswoman," and I wonder why they pigeonhole themselves this way.
And then it strikes me: They are product peddlers as opposed to salespeople.
What do I mean by this? Well, a gifted salesperson can sell anything to anyone. Not because they have great products but instead because they are supremely confident about themselves and know they can charm and intrigue virtually everyone they come in contact with.
And the way they perform this magic act, of sorts, is not by touting themselves and bragging about how wonderful they are, but instead by revealing a genuine and unrelenting interest in others. They care about the following:
- What makes their prospects tick.
- Why they are passionate about their work.
- What they value about business, family, life and friendship.
- Who they are as "regular" people, as opposed to their executive titles.
- What their dreams and goals are.
When people recognize that you are truly interested in them, an extraordinary chain reaction occurs. First they think about themselves. Then they think about you, and they appreciate that you have genuine interest in the traits and attributes that make them unique.
They feel engaged. They feel connected to you in a way no sales manual ever discusses or recognizes. They feel a certain intimacy--that is the most powerful sales builder that can ever be unleashed.
None of this is manipulative. It's based on a legitimate interest in and involvement with others that builds a bridge between you and the client. A bridge of faith, trust, mutual interests, even friendship.
When you obtain this level of intimacy, you can sell the world. But paradoxically, it doesn't come across as "selling" because there is no product or service at the forefront. Instead, there is a personality, an intelligent and compelling human being, developing a bond with another.
How do you know when you have achieved this special status with your customers and clients? Consider the following checklist:
- They turn to you for advice on issues outside the realm of business.
- Your relationship evolves into a form that cannot be defined by an order or a transaction.
- It is clear to you that the other person truly enjoys your company. Being together transforms from a "have to do" to a "want to do."
Do you still want to think of yourself as a "real estate salesperson?" Now might be the time to delete that product from your title.
Mark Stevens is the CEO of MSCO, a management and marketing firm based in New York, and the author of Your Marketing Sucks and God Is a Salesman. He's a regular media commentator on business matters including marketing, management and sales. He's also the author of the marketing blog, Unconventional Thinking.