“Wall Street Journal Bestseller“
“An essential roadmap to achieving professional and personal success—from the First Lady of Sales”
You might not be a professional salesperson, but you still sell all the time. No matter what their professional job is, everyone is a salesperson. It’s a universal truth that life is about selling. Successful selling isn’t so much a business aptitude or a sales competency; it’s a basic operating skill. You need this essential ability to close “life sales”– to get people to do what you want and need them to do.
“Embrace your inner salesperson. Know that your job is sales, even if it’s not your title on your business card. Consider every interaction a transaction – and every transaction a sale.”
No matter who you are or what you do, you deal with different life sales. If you can’t sell, you face trouble. If you can sell, you can expect smooth sailing. People who are effective at life sales and commercial sales understand a basic truth: Successful selling is never about them; it’s always about making things better for the other person.
Typical life sales include getting your children to brush their teeth, asking your spouse to pick up the dry cleaning after work, convincing your book club to read your favorite novel and routinely asking those around you to do favors for you. These are your “asks.” Seeking and granting favors is life’s eternal merry-go-round. You ask people to do positive things for you, and they ask you to do positive things for them.
Since everyone is always selling, you need to develop your sales capacities.
People sell all day, every day. Since sales is a never-ending activity and since your success depends to a significant degree on how effective you are as a life salesperson, learn to be good at selling.
“Every day of your life, you try to talk someone into something, ask for a favor or state your case with the hope of changing someone’s mind.”
Selling is an important workplace proficiency to acquire and hone. Being a good life salesperson doesn’t mean being pushy, obnoxious or dishonest. You can be a great life salesperson without coming across as a huckster. Even a company’s non-sales employees can sell the firm’s products or services. Many times, these are “Hey, by the way…” sales. When non-sales employees sell a product or service, their firm should reward them appropriately.
Consider how lawyers sell their cases to juries. Teachers must sell students on studying and doing homework. Maintenance supervisors must sell their bosses on regularly upgrading essential equipment. And managers must sell their employees on the value of working together to accomplish the organization’s goals.
The need to sell constantly is lifelong. Since most people aren’t paid salespeople, they never get formal sales training or learn the ins and outs of professional selling.
Follow a five-step sales formula to maximize your sales effectiveness.
Selling well depends on having the right mind-set. Basically, you must free your inner child. Most children are born salespeople. Kids aren’t afraid to ask for what they want.
“Using the skills of the sales professional to get what you want and need and deserve every day – on and off the job – makes it so much more likely that you will succeed.”
As an adult, you must relearn how to ask persuasively for what you want. To that end, use a five-step sales formula:
One: Selling may feel instinctive, but you need to make a plan.
You sell when you negotiate, pitch a concept in a meeting or ask someone to do something. To sell with purpose, make a plan. At work, you’re selling when you try to get hired or promoted, request a raise, seek project approval or recommend any positive step you think will benefit your firm. You’ll be more successful if you plan your approach in advance.
“Planning…is the key to success. It’s the key to getting things done. It’s the key to getting started and getting finished so we can be and feel productive. And planning is the key to making a sale.”
Every business-related sale requires you to give a speech. For any speech, you need to know your topic and organize your thinking. Rehearse your speech and prepare intelligent answers for any questions your audience members might ask. Any life sale requires similar planning and preparation. Planning helps you take charge and enables you to stay on track. More planning almost always equals more wins. Creating an effective roadmap takes time, effort and concentration, but it’s worth it. As you plan, ask five basic questions:
- “What do you want?” – Smart planning requires having an intelligent purpose and definitive, meaningful goals. You’ll need to know and be able to explain why your goals are crucial.
- “Who can help you?” – If you direct your efforts to the wrong person, you won’t get anywhere selling, trying to be productive or achieving your goals. Identify who can really assist you effectively.
- “Do you know how to get what you want?” – To create the best plan, you may need expert advice, or you may need to increase your knowledge by finding a way to learn, such as attending a training seminar.
- “What are your weaknesses?” – Identify areas you must strengthen. Your shortcomings can undermine your efforts to attain your goals.
- “How confident are you?” – When having a good plan and know where you need to go, your confidence will increase. With it, you’ll be more effective when you make a request.
Two: Search for all life sales opportunities.
To succeed, you must pay close attention to everything around you. Being aware is the best way to seize life sales opportunities and get ahead – inside and outside of the office. Transform your daily interactions into successful sales. Think how useful this skill might be when you try to secure low prices on concert tickets or convince a police officer to give you a warning instead of a speeding ticket.
When it comes to your job, securing a better salary is a primary life sales challenge most people want to master. Keep your goal uppermost in your mind at all times so you remain alert for the best opportunity to request a salary increase. Make sure you ask at the right time.
“Sales opportunities very often come out of the blue…Train yourself to listen for them. Train yourself to follow up with questions. Train yourself to quickly respond with potential solutions.”
The life sales you may want to achieve professionally could include an enthusiastic referral, more attractive travel benefits, more flexibility in your work hours, extended time off, a nicer office or even regular praise from the boss. Quality networking will help you become more effective at pursuing life sales and gaining cooperation in your work-related activities. Apply five techniques to become a better networker:
- “Go” – You may hate business-related social events, but you can’t network if you don’t meet people.
- “Have fun, even if you’re faking it” – Nobody wants to hang out with an unhappy grouch, so chin up at that conference.
- “Talk” – Learn to excel at small talk so you can be at ease in a conversation.
- “Watch your words” – Avoid talking about controversial subjects.
- “Take breaks” – Socializing at networking events can be exhausting, so take routine breaks. Speak with three different people; then go outside to get some fresh air. Chat with three more, take another break and speak with three more people. Well done; now you can go home.
Three: Life is filled with transactions, which are nearly impossible to negotiate without trust.
You give, and you get. Life is about transactions. For your life transactions to go well, be nice to those around you.
“Listening is the secret to selling anything. Listen…before you ever utter a word; before you ask for what you want; before you jump to any conclusions.”
Make them feel important. Be attentive to their needs. Show them respect. To establish trust with someone, practice five behaviors:
- Demonstrate “genuine interest” in the other person – Show that you care. Convey your sincerity, so the other person picks up on it.
- “Listen authentically” – Your message must be, “I listen not because I have to, but because I want to.” Work hard at really hearing what the other person is saying. Pay attention to people and the information they share. Be aware of feelings that others might communicate. Ascertain why someone might agree or disagree with you.
- “Observe” – Size up the other party through acute observation. What is that person’s situation? Can you improve it? Is this someone who has the authority to buy what you’re selling? This might be a life sale in which this person’s firm hires you or agrees to work with you on a project or a direct sales transaction.
- “Talk” – Communicate so people are confident that you understand them, but don’t overdo it. Talk enough but never too much. Small talk can encourage people to loosen up and become receptive to more meaningful conversations later.
- “Behave” – Be consistent and authentic. Be mindful of your words and actions. Your reputation is your most precious asset. Guard it carefully, particularly online.
Four: Don’t be afraid; ask people for what you want.
Asking someone for something is never easy. Everyone fears rejection. People often don’t know the best way to ask for what they want. They may hold back from asking because, down deep, they don’t really believe they deserve what they want. If you harbor any reservations, work to change your attitude. You’ll never get what you want if you’re afraid to make the ask. People aren’t mind readers. If you don’t tell them what you want, they’re not going to know, even if you think it’s obvious. Often, it’s not.
“If you can’t explain what you want, you’re unlikely to get it.”
Don’t assume that when you ask for something, the response will be no. Assume a yes is coming. A positive attitude is always more productive. When it comes to asking for what you want, first determine:
- What could you gain or lose? – Is your boss likely to fire you because you ask for a raise? Is your friend likely to spurn you if you ask for a favor? Of course not. Consider what you could attain if you ask. Maybe you’ll get it.
- What is the absolute worst outcome? – You might be a bit disappointed or embarrassed, but it won’t be the end of the world. You may choose to revise your future plans, but you can still be happy again.
- What will you do if you are turned down? – Prepare the strongest possible but most appropriate answer to a negative response.
Five: A transaction doesn’t end when people help you or when they don’t. Follow up.
Demonstrate your gratitude to those who help you. If you don’t get what you want, still continue to go out of your way to maintain positive relationships. Stay in touch with your friends, family and colleagues. Even if you don’t need them right now, you may need them in the future. Being cordial to others is always the right thing to do – particularly those you care about – without basing your actions on whether you will get anything in return.
“Every transaction that could result in a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ will require you to sell something: yourself, your idea, a concept, your worthiness, your value, your competence, your company.”
Handwritten thank-you notes are always better than phone calls, emails or text messages. Sending flowers is a plus. Other ways to let people know you appreciate them include:
- Reciprocate the favor – When you get, you should give. That’s the way to keep getting. If someone gives you a yes, try to give them a yes next time.
- Send a present – A gift doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful.
- Post a favorable review online – Be explicit in your written praise, whether you are writing on a person’s corporate website or on a review service.
- Report the outcome – If people do something great for you, let them know how things worked out based on the help they provided.
- Stay in touch – Remain in contact with people who helped you in the past, even if they aren’t helping you in the present.
If you get a yes on your first ask, you’re more likely to get a yes the next time. So when it comes to asking for help or support, rinse, and repeat.