Your Essential Sales Tool: Integrity
There are many theories about why some salespeople are more successful than others. Some say it's sales technique; some say it's inborn talent. However, in my opinion, the most important source of sales success is personal integrity.
Integrity isn't the same thing as honesty. Integrity means that all the elements of your personality are integrated into a consistent whole. According to Ron Willingham, author of Integrity Selling in the 21st Century, this integrity has five interrelated aspects:
1. Your basic values about people and life.
If you have a positive view of people and see life in optimistic terms, the people to whom you sell will be drawn to you and be more likely to trust you. On the other hand, if you're cynical and suspicious, those values will be echoed back and your customer will resist trusting you.
2. Your general feelings about the act of selling.
If you think that selling means helping people and making them happier, healthier and more successful, you'll approach each opportunity with energy and enthusiasm. If you think selling means manipulating people into buying things they don't really need, you'll feel, in your heart of hearts, that you're a louse and will eventually self-sabotage.
3. Your assessment of your own sales ability.
If you're confident in your ability to address customer concerns, understand their business issues, and create a solution that works for their unique situation, that confidence will make you more effective. If you're not sure that you're all that good at selling, your lack of confidence will make customers doubt your competence.
4. Your level of commitment to taking action.
If you are absolutely committed to doing whatever it takes (within legal and ethical bounds) to help the customer, you will take timely action to make certain that the sale moves forward. If you're not really committed, your actions will be half-hearted and ineffective and customers will respond by buying elsewhere.
5. Your belief in the product or service you're selling.
If you are certain that what you're selling is the best available, that pride will reverberate through every action you take. If you secretly suspect that what you're selling is substandard, your desire to help the customer will conflict with the knowledge that you're selling them rubbish, thereby making you less effective.
To summarize, if you intend to be really, really good at selling:
- 1. Be optimistic about people and about life.
- 2. Think of selling as a way to help people.
- 3. Learn how to sell and keep learning more.
- 4. Be 100% committed to helping the customer.
- 5. Sell only what truly best for your customers.
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GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist
Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.