The Human Approach Focus less on making your pitch and more on listening to what your customers need.

By Michael Port

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I'll fess up first: I've always felt stupid, even before I found out I was dyslexic. My fourth-grade teacher didn't help when she announced I was the worst speller she'd seen in 25 years. My friends were the superheroes who could pick up a textbook minutes before an exam and ace it. I was the kid scrambling to class who couldn't listen and take notes at the same time.

Maybe you've felt stupid at some point, too. Let's be honest: Most salespeople weren't the high-honors kids competing to give the valedictory speech. Salespeople don't always fit into the academic box that's neatly wrapped up and tied with a golden honors sash.

All Selling is Social
To perform at your highest level and enhance how you sell, you must continue to develop your emotional and social intelligence. Be open to the idea that you can improve your:

Self-awareness: The ability to read your own emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.

Self-management: Controlling your emotions and impulses and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Social awareness: Your ability to sense, understand and react to others' emotions while comprehending social networks.

Relationship management: The ability to inspire, influence and develop others while managing conflict.

Fortunately, working has shown me that I'm not stupid. I'll never win the spelling bee (now mater haow harde I trye), but the good news is that selling (not spelling) intelligence doesn't depend on classroom learning, textbook retention or the ability to nail the crossword puzzle. It does, however, require that salespeople develop two different types of intelligence.

When I'm asked about the best sales books ever written, my answer is always the same: Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence, both by Daniel Goleman. Here's why: Your ability to sell depends, in large part, on your self-awareness and social savvy.

Understanding your customers and skillfully responding to them is a question of emotional and social intelligence, not how many different closing tactics you've memorized or methods you have on hand to overcome objections.

According to Goleman, humans are wired to connect, neurologically speaking. That means you already have the mental agility to naturally soar to the top of your sales class.

Marvel at this. The news gets even better. Goleman doesn't believe that these competencies are innate, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on to achieve outstanding performance. There's nothing phantom about sales success.

So toss the trite sales pitch, and never formulate another "smart" thought. Instead, develop the keen ability to listen and hear what your customers truly want and need. Tear up the sales manual and increase your empathy by entering into the realm of your customers' feelings.

Step away from the PowerPoint presentation and study your self-presentation so you can foster credibility, trust and customer confidence.

Overall, stop obsessing over stupid sales strategies and throw yourself into most important life lessons many of us have yet to hone.

Or better yet, ditch the idea of being a salesperson and just be a person.

Michael Port is a New York Times bestselling author of four books, including Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, The Contrarian Effect, and his latest and most provocative, The Think Big Manifesto. Learn more at

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