Businesspeople probably spend more time trying to learn about how to improve their sales performance than they do on any other subject. The reason is clear--if you can’t sell effectively, you won’t stay in business, no matter how well you’re doing in every other area.
Most sales advice out there focuses on how to close deals--what to say, ways to follow up, when to pull back, and so on. But if you look at the best salespeople of the 21st century, you’ll find they have one commonality in their behavior that has nothing to with the techniques they use to get prospects to open their checkbooks.
Stop Being a Pitchman
Until recently, when someone was considering buying something, there weren’t many ways of getting information. Unless we wanted to spend the bulk of our waking hours doing research, most of us were dependent on overt sales approaches to find out what was available.
As a result, we were somewhat tolerant of commercials that broke into our favorite shows, cold calls that distracted us at work, and knocks on the door that interrupted our family dinners. In this environment, the salesperson that mastered the right turn of phrase to close the most deals was the one who made the most money.
As with so much else, the Internet changed everything. Today, when most people start thinking about buying something, the first thing they do is search online. In a matter of minutes, we can find out everything we want to know about every potential solution to any problem or unfulfilled desire we might have. It’s no surprise traditional sales techniques annoy us more than ever before--and that they’ve never been less effective.
So what can a salesperson do? Instead of worrying how to walk, talk, and dress to close deals, you should make it a habit to consistently share what you know for free.
Give Yourself Away
Consider the most powerful people of our day and age--Richard Branson, Suze Orman, Oprah, Tony Robbins, even Donald Trump. These people are promiscuous about giving away their knowledge. Whenever they have the opportunity to teach, they do so, whether or not they’re being paid for it. None of these master salespeople are concerned that those listening will steal their ideas; they’re always confident they’ve got plenty more. What they realize is that by regularly helping people improve their lives and businesses, they won’t even have to ask for the big sale once the time is right.
Follow their lead. Make it a practice to always be looking for ways to give away the fruits of your hard-earned expertise. This habit can take many forms--blogging, speaking, contributing articles to trade publications, participating on panels. But whatever you do, don’t ask to get paid for it. Because when you get in the habit of sharing what you know, business will just start falling into your lap.