Ask almost anyone you meet what feelings or images the thought of salespeople or selling brings to mind and the answers you get are rarely pretty. Having to sell something almost immediately conjures up the idea of being a nuisance, an aggressor, and even a swindler. Given the mental baggage that has become associated with selling, it's no wonder that most people don't want to do it--even when the life of their business depends on it. I've found that helping people to sell successfully hinges first and foremost upon shifting their mindset. Here are 3 ways I do that.

Stop imagining you're an irritation. All those nasty ideas of interrupting people at dinner, pushing them into something they don't want to do, and making them feel cheated all come down to one simple idea--trying to sell someone the wrong thing, meaning something they don't need, can't use, or will be worse off owning than not. Now think about your company's product. Does it have an intended market? Someone it was made to help? Do you believe it will change the quality of your customer's life for the better? Then why would any of above apply? If a friend called you and told you he had run across a new thing that he thought would save you a lot of time, would you feel like he was pestering you, trying to make you do something terrible, or otherwise waste your time? Probably not. By the same token, if you are calling the right person with the right product or service, you shouldn't feel like you're bothering her either.

Focus on your purpose. Every reticent salesperson I've ever met shoots himself in the foot straight out of the gate by worrying more about having to ask for the sale than about how he can help his customer. When I call a prospect, I have one thing in mind--and one thing only. Learning about my customer's opportunities and challenges, and figuring out how I can use one of my products to help her either take advantage of the occasion or remove the obstacle in her path. Imagine that same friend I mentioned above was actually calling to tell you that he had come into some money and decided to send you $500 with no strings attached, right at a moment when you could really use it. Would you be unhappy that he called? Would you want to hang up the phone? Would you tell him to call you back some other time? Doubtful. And neither will your prospect, if you focus on making him understand how your product or service can provide value to him.

Don't beat around the bush. A reluctant salesperson drags his feet about asking for the sale because he thinks that doing so will give away two facts: 1. That he is a salesperson, and 2. That he is calling to sell something. Let's get real. Do you really think that the person on the other end of the conversation doesn't know why you are talking to them? Of course she does. But that is not a good thing--because it also means that by conversing with you, she is at least open to the possibility that she might need, like, or want what you have approached her about buying. If you have laid your groundwork right, and framed your product in terms of how it will make your prospect's life, job, or company change for the better, the last step is to ask her to enable that change by making the purchase--now. Remember that scenario where your friend calls to offer you $500? If he asked "should I send it now or would you prefer to receive it next year?", I bet you'd tell him to send it right away, because the sooner you get it, the sooner you can put it to use. When you ask for the sale from your customer, you are asking the same thing. Would you like to benefit from the value of this product now, or next year? The answer is pretty straightforward.

Every time I reach out to make a sale, I do so with the unwavering belief that if I listen carefully, I will be able to help the customer I am contacting. Whether I save her time, save her money, or save her from hardship, I will certainly be able to help her in a meaningful way. Armed with that idea, I have no hesitation in calling her, in asking for her time, in trying to understand her needs, and ultimately in selling her something.