And most of us don’t like it. When we hear the word sales we often conjure up images of oh-so-smug and sleazy car salesmen or aggressive, boiler-room type telemarketers. Or Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross espousing the importance of the ABCs — Always. Be. Closing.
Some of us have traumatic relationships with sales. For me, it began with having to sell tickets to my pop-warner football games – me, a sweaty palmed and trembling twelve year old awaiting door-to-door rejection (sadly, my parents accounted for the bulk of my sales). For you it may have been hawking tickets to your school play, or your first high school job in retail.
It’s a shame we have such a negative connection to sales though, because according to a study commissioned by author and researcher Daniel Pink, we spend 40% of our work time selling something, in one way or another. He sees the issue with sales as a framing problem — we’re just not viewing sales in the right light.
Sales Is Not Inherently Evil, It’s Simply Persuasion
It’s important to realize that sales is not inherently evil.
In fact, when you deconstruct sales it really boils down to persuasion. Getting your boss to agree to your new project plan is a form of sales. And so is getting your son to pick up his room, or convincing a patient to continue with a treatment regimen. These are all forms of sales, and the better we get at it, the more it will benefit us professionally and personally.
Turning the ABCs of Sales Around
In his book, To Sell is Human: : The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Pink flips the pressure oriented ABC sales method on it’s head, with a softer, more introspective approach. He uses the acronym to spell out Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity instead.
By attunement, Pink means we should be focusing on the buyer’s thoughts. Once we’re in line with their thinking, we can truly understand their perspective. This better allows us to see how we can get our ideas across.
Buoyancy refers to “a gritty spirit and sunny outlook.” Be optimistic and persistent. Before you attempt to sell someone on something, ask yourself interrogative questions to mentally prepare yourself. Some examples are “Can I convince this person?” “Am I prepared for this meeting?” These types of questions are much better forms of preparation than the traditional “pumping yourself up” forms of self-talk, like Muhammad Ali’s tagline – “I am the greatest!”
Clarity refers to your ability to make clear your offering. Often things are rejected based on the fact that they are not fully understood. Aim to clarify and simplify your offering, don’t overwhelm the other person with options and details. Hone in on the benefits the person will receive from your offer and if you have to mention negatives, do so in contrast to the larger potential.
People buy things and buy into ideas when they are moved. Ultimately, working on our sales skills makes us better leaders and communicators — plus, it’s just good for business.
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