You want to know what turned my sales job into a career? (that means I started making really good money) I stopped acting professional. That’s right. The word “acting” is in italic. That was on purpose.
You can be professional, without acting professional. Chances are you are not an idiot and neither are your clients.
When someone is pretending to be a certain way or putting up a front, you can tell, right?
So can your clients.
Now, my job doesn’t require me to wear a suit and tie, but I know a lot of you probably need to.
Just remember that just because you are wearing a suit and tie, doesn’t mean you have to become the suit and tie. I see so many sales people behaving and speaking in ways that are in no way shape or form the way they would behave or speak in their personal lives.
You might say “But i’m not in my personal life, i’m at work, trying to sell to high profile clients!”. That may be true, but let me tell you how I see it.
That V.P., CEO or buyer you are trying to sell to, he/she is a human being, right?
Now, stay with me on this.
I want you to go through your morning routine in your head. You know, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you leave your house.
When that’s done, do the same thing with your evening routine. From the moment you arrive home to the moment you go to bed.
In your opinion, what are the odds that your clients’ mornings and evenings look exactly or almost exactly the same as yours? Pretty good, right?
My point? We all go through the same things every day. We all have similar struggles, every day. We all would like to sleep in an extra hour in the morning. We are all pretty much going through the same things. So why do we put up an act when trying to sell to someone?
Why do we put up a façade to hide our true selves?
It’s as if we leave our house and put on the “professional” mask on, like we should be ashamed of who we truly are and try to hide it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even the person you are trying to sell to has put a professional “mask” on.
So we are basically all going around pretending to be other people in order to buy/sell them something. And they say sales is all about establishing a genuine, honest and trustworthy connection with people. How can you do that when you’re not being your true self?
If you’re funny, be funny. If you are a serious person, then be a serious person. If you are loud, be loud. If you are an introvert, don’t try to be an extrovert. If you are an arrogant asshole, you should probably work on yourself and stop being an arrogant asshole.
Just be whoever you are, but BE professional, don’t ACT professional. You have friends and family who like you for who you are, so why wouldn’t other people?
People tell me I’m funny, but that’s not why I am able to establish great friendly relationships with my clients. It is because through my humor, they see my authenticity. They see that they are getting the same guy they would get if they were my personal friend, hanging out on the weekend.
When they see that the person in front of them is being 100% genuine and real, their BS shields go down and they feel they might be able to join you in being real, removing the professional mask. And the thing is that you will know the moment that happens.
You will feel it.
My clients have never seen the other me, the “professional” me. They only see the real me, being professional. Will absolutely everyone like you? I doubt it. But I would rather not be liked while being myself, than not being liked because the person picked up on my ACT and discovered my fraudulent nature.
We are all trying to be better than the next guy, I get that. We have to pay bills, feed children, fuel cars, buy birthday presents, Christmas presents, Valentine’s day gifts, mother’s day, father’s day……….the list goes on and on.
What that does is put a whole lot of pressure on you to succeed, to SELL!!! And just like athletes who start to fear losing instead of desiring to win, we start trying fancy moves and strategies that don’t come naturally to us. We try to “force the play” out of fear of loss.
When you see an elite athlete “in the zone”, the major thing you will notice is that it all seems easy to him/her, second nature. That’s because they are doing what comes naturally to them.
They are being their true “athlete self”. They are not trying things they are not familiar with. They don’t try to replicate some other athlete’s moves. They don’t force the play and they play to win, not to not lose.
The same applies for sales. Don’t be a sales rep. Be YOU, who also happens to sell X &Y. You follow?
Think of the poor buyer who has to meet with you and your 5 competitors. You are all putting up the same “professional” front to try and impress her. She’s basically meeting the same robot over and over again, just from different companies.
Be the breath of fresh air.
The one who is genuine.
The one who is real.
Sure, at first you’ll probably think you messed up by being too relaxed or too funny or too friendly. But trust me, that’s what will separate you from the professional robots you are competing with and your client will appreciate it. Your client will remember YOU, not the fake, redundant, forgettable you.
She will remember the slightly nervous, funny, sincere and genuine you.
One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received wasn’t even meant as a compliment, it was actually a question.
I was talking to a colleague who is fairly new in the commercial sales rep position. He’s young, hungry and frankly has a lot of potential.
My phone rang. It was a client.
After I hung up, my colleague looks at me with a perplexed look on his face and he asked me:
“How long have you known this client to be able to talk to him that way???”
Without getting to deep into useless details, there was some cursing and joking. Just 2 guys talking about business in the friendliest and most casual way possible.
The answer to my colleague’s question is “not that long……a few months”
“How the hell do you do that? How do you know when you can cross that line and say things like that?”
I told him that for me, it was humor.
“But I’m not a funny guy!” says my colleague.
This is what I told him and it is really the best advice I can give anyone.
There are reasons people like you…many reasons, I’m sure. The problem is that most people put those attributes or qualities aside to be “professional”.
Find and zero in on the reasons people in your life like you and be THAT with your clients! Let others be professional. You just focus on being you. Trust me on this.
In sales, everybody knows that if you can get the buyer to like you, you increase your chances of establishing a business relationship with him.
What if it went a little deeper than that? What if there is a more genuine way?
Because, let’s be honest, you can get someone to like you while putting on an act or being fake. That’s what con artists do and they do it well, but you can’t establish long term relationships that way.
In his groundbreaking book Pre-Suasion, Robert Cialdini talks about how the best way to get someone to like you, is for you to like them! (boys and girls, if you work anywhere near the sales or marketing industries, you NEED to read this book. Everyday you spend not having read this book is a waste of a work day)
Research has shown that the most effective way to get someone to like you, is to take GENUINE interest in who they are and what they do.
When the other person notices that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying and what they do, them liking you becomes automatic.
Like I said, you can do this by being fake, but trust me, there are so many interesting people out there. If you just took the time to get to know them, truly know them, you will be amazed at the great relationships you can build, even outside of your work environment.
By being fake, you will be the one missing out on what a truly genuine relationship can contribute not only to your professional life, but also your personal life and personal growth.
I wasn’t always a good sales rep. I used to see my clients as dollar signs, sources of income.
In a sense, that is what they are, but seeing them as only that will hurt you. I was always thinking “how much business can this client get me?” or “how much commission do I stand to make on this order?”
You’re probably thinking to yourself that I’m insane to see them any other way, but you would be wrong.
When you concentrate on the amount you will end up getting from a transaction, you lack sincerity in wanting to help the client.
Now, I’m no hippie and I’m all about making money, or I wouldn’t be in sales. It’s just that when you exclusively concentrate on how much you will benefit from a sale rather than how you can help your client, it shows. Your client can smell it on you like a cheap drugstore eau de toilette.
Never forget one crucial aspect of our (sales reps) mission.
Our job is to make our client look good to their client. That’s right. I don’t care who is buying your product or service. Just be conscious that they are buying your product or service to, in turn, be a better supplier to their clients. You sell software? Your product is helping your client to be more efficient to better serve their clients.
You sell carpeting to a designer? You are helping that designer churn out the best damn design for her client. This applies to pretty much everything. If you find a sector where this doesn’t apply, stop wasting your time thinking useless thoughts and just see the big picture.
Stop thinking of the amount you stand to make and just concentrate on helping your client. I promise your income will increase.
Mine did almost overnight when I applied this mental shift. It is the single most important change I made that has propelled me to being a six figure income earner.
When your clients feels you are sincerely trying to help, they will want to help you in return. And how does a client help a sales rep?
That’s right, orders.
I’m going to wrap this up, because honestly, there are only so many ways for me to tell you to just be yourself and be genuine.
That doesn’t mean not being professional. It just means not ACTING professional. Nobody likes to be sold by an actor.
The most valuable lesson I ever learned in sales was from my first boss. An American from New Jersey named Kevin.
He said: “people would much rather buy from a friend than from a sales person. Now get on that phone and make some friends!”, and you can’t make friends by being fake……..at least not in the long term.