I often ask an audience "how many people here sell things?". Some immediately put their hands up, others wait a little while longer, others longer again and one or two may never put their hand in the air.
However, I wait, and wait, and wait and repeat the question again… until everyone in the room has their hand raised.
You see everybody in the business of selling at some level. Obviously, you have your regular external customers, and selling to them and making them feel happy to return again and again, will help guarantee that yours and your colleagues wages and salaries will be paid.
You may have internal customers whom you serve within the business, for example, payroll making sure that staff are paid in a timely and accurate fashion and that their boss, the financial controller/director, is made to look good and that he won't get lynched in the car park!
So, we sell to survive. Even in your personal life, you are selling your services, for example, selling the idea to your kids that learning to play the piano or going to dance lessons or whatever, is a good thing in the long run and that persistence will pay off.
Take marriage for example or forming new business partnerships or alliances or creating "co-opetition" arrangements (today's word for working with other firms of similar disposition, possibly competitors, and creating strategic relationships with them)... and so on; these all require you to sell the idea to another person with the promise that there will be a mutually beneficial outcome.
Today, we know an enormous amount about how the brain works, and this I've learned about the process of sales and selling; we are in a "thinking-game", first and foremost. In other words, there is a deep psychology behind getting people to part with their money and to buy or rent, your product or service. The better you are at understanding this psychology, the more likely you are to be successful at it.
I have come across many sales people in my life; some are excellent, some average and quite a number are poor. Those who are excellent, and in the top percentile of earners, are not massively better than the below average counterparts.
What I have found is that the top performers are consistently better by only a few percentage points in the mix of critical success ingredients that they bake into their selling "pie".
We will look at these ingredients in more detail in the next article.
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