Sales is NOT a gift — it’s a skill…

If you’ve ever watched someone sell and thought, “They’re a natural-born salesperson…” bad news.

While that may be a convenient EXCUSE for you to not get good at selling, it’s just not true.

Yes — they may have some inborn or developed personality characteristics that help.

For example, some people are more naturally extroverted or introverted.

Some people grew up in families with better or worse social dynamics.

Pick a trait or characteristic, and the way it shows up from person to person to person is different.

And yet, no matter where you come from, what your genetics or environment have been, you can become a much better salesperson and persuader (one-to-one or one-to-many).

In fact, if you focus on just a few things, you can develop your sales skill to a level where others will turn around and think, “WOW, that person is a sales ‘natural!’”

And here’s the thing — how to get there is probably not what you think.

For example, being an extrovert is not nearly as important to selling as you might think.  Being gregarious — having an outgoing personality — isn’t that important, either.

You don’t have to be a fast-talker, and you don’t even have to wear a fancy suit (unless the context requires it, and far fewer contexts require it than you might think).

Here’s what really matters — the 5 focus areas to become a “natural” sales superstar…

  1. Own your own frame, be in control of your self…

I can’t say enough for the power of meditation and mindfulness.

There’s no better way to be able to detach yourself from your reactionary thoughts and feelings, and make a conscious decision about which you’ll let go, and which you’ll use to guide how you behave.

I have a daily calendar with sayings from the Dalai Lama (thanks Mom!).  Yesterday’s jumped out at me as especially important to my personal life.

“Children always look to their parents.  Parents should be more calm.  You can teach children that you face a lot of problems but you must react to those problems with a calm mind and reason.”

What does this have to do with selling?  Everything.  When an objection or other problem comes up, you can’t let it derail you.  You have to take a deep breath and respond to it in the moment, where you’re owning your reaction.

The moment a prospect throws you off in a selling situation and you can’t recover, you lose the sale.

In a consultative selling context (which is pretty much any good selling context today), your prospect is looking for your guidance like they look to a parent.  You must react from a position of calm and reasoned leadership, and that will win you their trust and respect.

  1. Understand your customer or prospect…

Selling is not about you.  The moment you make it about you, you lose.

Selling is about your prospect.  Their fears, frustrations, and failures.  Their dreams, desires, and destiny.  Their problems, and the solutions to them.

You will only succeed in sales by finding out what it is your prospect wants and giving it to them.  You can’t force anything down their throats.

Your role before the sale is to understand your market and archetypal prospect(s), and what motivates their buying behavior.

Then, in in-person selling, your role is to really bring that out of them, through Socratic interviewing and sales detective work.

You must understand your market generally, and your prospect specifically.

What are they thinking right now?  About the world in general?  About the problem you’re offering to solve?  About you and your product?  What do they believe?  What are their values?  What are they looking for in a solution?

While you can guide some of this toward your product, it always starts with the conscious and unconscious conversations going on in their head.

The better you can understand what those conversations are, the easier it will be to sell.

  1. Be a source of positivity, joy, fun, good feelings…

Humans are animals.

We’re wired to feel and behave like animals, with a thinking brain that has deluded itself into the belief that we have any control over those deeper animal instincts.

Yeah, we have some control, but far less than most of us think.

What’s the relevance here?

In short, animals and people go toward what makes us feel good, and away from what makes us feel bad.  We go toward pleasure, and away from pain.

It’s instinctual.

The decision happens deep down in the reptilian and mammalian brains, and a split-second later our conscious “thinking” brain starts to justify and rationalize it.

When you are a source of positivity, joy, fun, and other good feelings, people will want to move toward you, and will buy.  When you are a source of negative feelings, they will move away.

(Don’t mistake this as a reason to avoid fear/negativity in your marketing — negative, fear-based selling works by pointing at negative in the world and offering positive relief through your offer, making them come toward you.)

Be mindful of how you’re being perceived.  Pay attention.  Do more to provide your prospects with good feelings, and it will pay off through increased sales.

  1. Be authentic and congruent…

“Keep it real.”  It’s a trite saying.  But if you truly do so, it’s massively attractive to money.

I often spend an inordinate amount of time with prospects for my services telling them why they should NOT buy from me.  And yet, it only makes them want it even more.

That’s the power of authenticity and congruence.

When you base your selling and behavior in truth — about you, about the market, about your offer, about everything — it resonates on a deeper level.

It also leads to being consistent and congruent because the truth is always congruent with itself (while lies often shift, sometimes subtly, and throw off warning signs to your prospect’s subconscious).

It’s what you should do from an ethical and moral perspective.  And it works.

This is especially important when it comes to how you present yourself.

In nearly every business situation, I wear jeans.  I have one client who has told me — twice — that I should get a tailored suit.  And I MIGHT, at some point, when it feels like me.  But for the most part, Roy Furr is a guy who can really shine in nice casual.  (With the exception of testifying before Congress, so is Mark Zuckerberg, so I’ll note that it doesn’t put a ceiling on your income.)  So I choose to wear what is most authentic to and congruent with who I am.  To do otherwise would give me subtle but nagging discomfort, which in turn would do the same to my prospects.

This is also a great place to mention the whole extroversion-introversion thing.  This especially applies to introverts who think they need to fake extroversion to sell.  Not so.  Yes, you’ll have to talk to people.  Even strangers.  That’s especially true of one-to-one selling.  And it’s a good life capability.  But if you’re an introvert, be who you are.  And if you’re an extrovert, be who you are.

The moment you try to be someone you’re not, your prospect will smell the stench on you, and stop trusting you.  But by being authentic and congruent, you’ll convey believability at a subconscious level, and it will make selling much easier.

  1. Be a proactive problem-solver…

“A problem is a market.”

I’ve heard versions of that from both Gary Bencivenga and Eugene Schwartz, both of whom know a thing or two about selling.

If a problem is a market, a solution is a sale.

And so in selling, your role is to provide solutions to your prospect’s problems.

The problem can be a legitimate challenge, or it can be a desire unfulfilled.  Either way, if you can take them from Point A (having the problem) to Point B (not having the problem), all the sales tricks and techniques won’t matter.

I know how to close sales — I know puppy dog closes, and crossroads closes, and assumptive closes — and I still use some of that in sales copy, because of the nature of selling in media.

However, when I’m actually on the phone with someone selling, I seldom close them — they close me.

That’s because by the time I’m done speaking with them, I know what they want, what problem they’re looking to solve, and I’ve made it clear that I can provide the solution.  At that point, I don’t benefit by getting pushy.  I benefit by simply holding it out there and letting them grab it.

And no, this doesn’t preclude follow-up — that’s just a part of good communication.  But I’ve never pushed hard, and the more I’ve developed this problem-solver mentality, the more effective my selling has become.

Good news…

All of this simply contributes to you being a better human being, who legitimately creates value in the world, for those they come in contact with.

Funny, that’s also what’s required for being the kind of salesperson who just keeps climbing to higher and higher levels of success.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr