Dan Pink was kind enough to sit down with me back in the summer of 2011.
In his new book To Sell is Human, Dan Pink is determined to put the dirty suit sales trainers out of business. He takes the approach that everyone is in sales and the process is based on establishing influence more than slick talk.
We have all seen Boiler Room, Glengarry Glen Ross and Wall Street (the first one). We have all put on a suit and practiced a pitch in the mirror. Those days are over! No longer does a fast tongue and a fancy suit fool the world's educated buyers. Establishing trust and designing an effective client strategy are now the driving factors in forming partnerships.
What do all 3 of Dan Pink's books have in common? They are disruptive because they are rooted in common sense. Pink shows us that selling is human based on 3 primary objectives:
Shaking Your Own Perspective
Those of us who have been successful in sales for an extended period of time wish to believe we have it all figured out. However, our historical reference may have lost us more deals than we have won. Too often, we rush to write a prescription before we diagnose the infection. As our buyer explains their plight, our wheels start spinning. We immediately think of the product and start counting our commission.
Bring a partner along, whiteboard a strategy, ask your wife for her input. Whatever you need to do to get out of your tunnel vision. Rushing to push your product does not solve your customer's issue.
The best organizational programs are customized. It is critically important to do a deep dive assessment and to customize a solution that is unique to the customer's culture. Off-the-shelf product sets may be more profitable for a vendor in the short term but the commodity is easy to replace when a better price comes along.
The Art of Perseverance
Say what you want about salespeople. One thing we do really well is deal with rejection. Many have tried and failed because they could not take the slammed doors and smashed phones. Yes, salespeople hear the word "no" hundreds of times a day. The life of a salesperson carries a great deal of uncertainty, only those with supreme self-confidence can endure the peaks and valleys.
Know Why it Matters to Them
If today I was building a fence I could google the word, attain some general knowledge, check a few online reviews, and find 3 quotes. Information is so abundant in this day and age that product dumping (or even presenting a more affordable price) no longer cuts it.
I have to know your business inside and out. I have to be able to articulate to you with sufficient grace what I have and why you cannot live without it.
So today's barstool debrief may be met with the question:
"What does a lawyer know about sales?"
Answer: More than you might assume.
I'll be the first to admit that becoming effective in sales takes years and years of practice. Go to any networking event and you will see non-sales professionals making first year mistakes. But there is a flip side: The market is changing. There are as many programmers who are CEO's as there are MBAs. Suits are being replaced by jeans. Demos are more important than proposals and your strategy is available to all your competitors.
Better get good at researching and articulating. The fast talk doesn't work any more!
I'll leave you with 3 simple selling tips from my 15 years of mistake riddled success:
1. Answer questions directly.
2. Never put a product or price before an organizational strategy.
3. Be better by being different.
Don't Forget to Remember!