Dale Carnegie framed it best: to become a great salesperson, you have to remember that people want to do business with people they like and respect. At the end of the day, while you may be selling to a customer, what you're really doing is looking to earn their trust. As Carnegie said, it's about learning how to "win friends and influence people."
Most people in sales forget that it's enthusiasm that carries your message the farthest. Often times, people don't buy into the product or service as much as they buy into the person who is selling it to them. Which means, as a salesperson, it's your job to ooze the same passion the CEO or founder of the company would when talking about the business.
When I was first starting out as a young entrepreneur, all I really had was my enthusiasm. For the most part, I was largely inexperienced, but it was my energy, my effort that people bought into--and that's the same advice I have given to each and every one of my employees and salespeople since then.
But let me make something very, very clear: enthusiasm is not the same as "winging it."
I can't stress this enough. In business, "winging it" is never an option. Ever. Repeat after me: knowledge is power. Which means if you're about to make a sales pitch, if you're about to explain your idea to a potential partner, if you're about to do anything involving the future and good health of your company, then you need to be as knowledgable as possible about every possible variable.
Where most salespeople go wrong, then, is they think that enthusiasm alone will make up for their lack of knowledge. You know those type of people, right? I'm sure you can think of a time or two when a very energetic door knocker stood on your stoop and explained to you all the benefits of some meaningless thingamajig.
That's not the kind of salesperson you want to be.
The kind you want to be is so incredibly knowledgeable about what it is you're selling that even the thought of talking about it gets you excited--and as a result, lights a fire under the seat of the person you're selling to. The more you know about your product, your market, your competition, the more leverage you have. And honestly, this doesn't just apply to business and sales, but everything in life.
Winging it is a poor strategy. True insight mixed with enthusiasm is far more effective.
Now let's talk about being a great salesperson within a company.
In 2001, I had 450 salespeople working for me. Getting that many people to work hard, with enthusiasm, is no easy task. And let me tell you, it drove me nuts when I stopped into one of their offices and found them filling out expense reports in the middle of the afternoon.
"Really? Can't you do that after hours? You're missing opportunities here," I would say.
I felt the same way when I saw managers who called a sales meeting at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. I'm not saying they should have brought employees in on a Saturday, but I'd tell them, "Can we have this meeting either earlier or later in the day, so we aren't cutting into prime business hours?"
From my perspective, these are the sorts of decisions no one operating from a place of enthusiasm would make. If you are gung-ho about your business, eager to move to needle and hell-bent on knocking down doors, then you would never manage your time this way. You would prioritize the one thing that matters most--for yourself and your company--over all the little things, like expense reports and check-in meetings.
You would prioritize selling.
There's an old adage when it comes to sales in business, and it goes, "Never stop selling."
I would take it a step further. I would say, "Never stop selling, and never stop challenging your own enthusiasm."
Because the truth is, unless you believe in what you're doing to the point where it is one of your most recognizable qualities, you will never move the needle and reach the peak of success you want for yourself. Sales, in itself, can be an incredible career path for driven individuals. Some take what they learn in sales and use it to build their own companies later on.
But regardless, it's your enthusiasm that will determine how successful you are. Enthusiasm mixed with rock solid knowledge of your business.