I have recently been reading Dan Pinks book To Sell Is Human and I am rather enjoying finally seeing someone put to paper what I have been using my entire career (wish I had gotten it published first). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in nine Americans work in sales. Every day more than fifteen million people earn their keep by persuading someone else to make a purchase. My philosophy (as well as Dan Pinks) is that the other eight Americans are actually in sales as well. EVERYONE is in sales! Whether you are a Doctor, Lawyer, School Teacher or a Janitor, each of us at some point in some way have to convince someone else to do something and that is what selling is all about. It is how we connect with an idea, product or person and then help others find that same connection for themselves.
So, for this week’s edition of Monday Wisdom I will present what has lead me to believe that selling is not just human as Mr. Pink says, it is also Humane.
Humane /(h)yo͞oˈmān/: having or showing compassion or benevolence
Since I began my career in sales I have always found myself modeling the behaviors of very specific colleagues. Sometimes those behaviors benefited my sales process and sometimes they did not but, every time I did this it was because I liked the person. I felt a certain sense of kindness exuded from what and how they did things and that spoke to me not as a colleague but as a person. I would ask to shadow them on meetings or allow them to run second on my meetings just to get that type of energy in the room with a prospective client or buyer. People would open up about all sorts of things and instead of the usual remedial “building rapport” beginning to meetings, we would find ourselves engaged in fulfilling and meaningful conversations simply based on who we were as people. Our mangers did not always like this but for me, it was important to know I was working with some I liked as oppose to just trying to close a deal.
Now, as a sales specialist and entrepreneur I find myself still utilizing what I learned to help me determine the best people to work with. I developed my own way of cultivating compassion into my business ventures and sales process and I take this one step further by always making sure my intent matches my compassion. No matter how much money may be on the table or, who may come to me with an opportunity I make sure to search for that same feeling of connection I would feel in my initial years in business. It has helped me build stronger bonds with those that matter, weed out those that do not and has helped me keep my clients longer. I make sure I am always humane in my approach and process and because of it, people not only like working with me, they trust that I have their best interest at heart.
To close out this Monday’s Wisdom, here are 3 principals I live by in everything I do that have helped me always remain humane while being a killer business professional. (get your pencil ready to take notes…)
- What I stand for in life, I stand for in business. Never let someone or something make you compromise on your ethics. It may lead to short term success but long term, it always has a way of coming back to bite you. Also, if you’ll compromise once, you’ll compromise again, and again, and again. If you do not know who you are find out ASAP and making sure it plays a large role in how you show up everyday.
- People do business with people they like, but they spend money with people they trust. It is one thing to get people to do business with you because you represent a Fortune 500 brand or are the owner of a currently popular restaurant on the block. It is another thing entirely to have someone chose to give you their hard earned money because they trust in what YOU can do for them or with them. Business owners are like parents, show them that you care for and can effectively take care of their precious baby girl and you just might get to take her to prom one day.
- (The most important) Let your process for selling guide you NOT lead you. Guidance is all about being pointed in the right direction but walking on your own. Leading, is about being in charge of that direction. More times that I can count I would walk into a meeting feeling like I knew exactly what to pitch or what would be the perfect selling point to a funder and be completely blind sided by what actually closed the deal. Or better yet, come across a prospect who had no idea what they actually needed and no amount of SPIN questioning would ever be enough to help me find what would actually lead to a closed sale. Know your business and know your clients but make sure you know yourself even more. YOU are who they are buying or partnering with as much as your ideas or your services.