We all have different skills and capabilities. Some of them occur to us rather than having learned deliberately, some feel more natural to us depending on our personality and our born characteristics. No matter what though, they all include a learning process.
We do not need to know skills that are irrelevant to what we do for a living. If you are a software engineer, you are not required to possess the skills of a business developer. If you are a gardener, you are not expected to know anything about Photoshop, and so on.
I feel privileged enough to have had different kinds of occupations in my life that have given me a chance to see the world from different perspectives. Out of all those jobs, I have discovered particularly one job with an essentially integral skill to that job that by learning more about it, not only it made me stand out in that job, but it also helped me boost my career development in other unrelated fields. It allowed me to choose what I want to do next in my life with confidence.
That skill is nothing but the art of selling. Some years ago I found my first official job in sales. My job description was simple: cold visiting different merchants and selling them as many products available as possible. This meant I had to learn a lot about sales in general. As time went by, I was able to combine my previous knowledge in NLP, communications and other fields and ended up getting great results.
Eventually I realized that in a way we are all in sales and I can apply my knowledge in sales to many other things in life that involve human communication. And ultimately I discovered that we are actually all in the business of selling ourselves, not the product, not the service and not our skills.
What you are reading here is a glimpse of the modified version of the system that I developed while being a salesperson in order for it to be applicable to most situations in life rather than purely for salespeople. So let’s break it down.
- A solution to a problem
Before anything else, I would like you to understand this very core concept about sales. This concept can be applied to almost any situation in your personal life or at work as a business owner or someone with a regular occupation in any industry. Remember that your job is to provide a solution to a problem. Knowing it or not, you are already doing this part. But it always helps to think about it more consciously so you will know exactly what problem(s) you are tackling. For example, if you are desperate for a promotion at work but do not know why you should get one, meaning you do not know what problem you are solving more or better than others that deserves a promotion, it would make it harder for you to get one.
- The science of persuasion
Persuasion is another core element of sales that can be used in any form of human communication. Persuasiveness is in fact one of the strongest factors in sales that can increase the likelihood of closing.
When it comes to persuasion there are many things we can talk about, but there are at least four things you need to know in order to increase the level of your persuasiveness.
- You should know your product or service better than anybody else.
- You should believe in yourself as a person in your communications, e.g. asking for a promotion, or believe in the product or service that you are selling as a salesperson.
- You should learn some basic NLP techniques with the goal of becoming one with whoever you are interacting with. For example, the act of matching and mirroring, anchoring, etc.
- Your goal should be to appeal to emotions rather than logic.
If you know me, you also know that branding is one of the strongest areas of my expertise and I am surprised to see how little effort is put into creating one by many small business owners or individuals. Branding or personal branding is perhaps the most important tool, in your arsenal that can make your life easier in the long term.
A good starting point to work on your branding would be to start thinking about your vision and your goals for the future? How do you see yourself, your product or service in a few years from now? At the same time you can start working on your why. Why does your product or service exist? If you are building your personal brand, why do you have that vision or those goals in your mind?
The next step is to work on your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or anything that might endanger achieving your vision, i.e. threats. Even if you are doing this for the purpose of building your personal brand, I can guarantee you that by doing this step alone, you have already achieved powerful stuff in your life that many people lack, which is knowing yourself better.
The very crucial step in building a successful brand is to market and publicise your brand in a way that includes exceptional story telling and conveys authority.
- The art of active listening
This element and the next one are so important that can prevent many conflicts, save marriages and help us serve people the way they really deserve.
Why listening is still a problem for many people, I do not exactly know. But perhaps they feel pressured to talk more rather than listening more. For example, I have had colleagues that would constantly interrupt me while talking about a project or some other important things. In these situations I have noticed one major problem arising. After we are done talking, neither of us fully understands the issue and we would end up having more questions than answers.
- The art of asking questions
It is actually the art of asking the right questions. This is where you gather as much intelligence as possible. The fears, the needs and the real expectations. The more information you gather the merrier. This can be easily applied to any situations in life as long as it is accompanied with active listening.
Always ask questions. If you are having a small talk, you are in a job interview, you are on a date, you are on a sales call, etc.
- The likability factor
Always try to be a caring consultant, not a pushy salesman. Doing this practice alone let me make long lasting customers and strong friendships in my life.
Also remember that sameness (almost) always wins. We like to hang out with those that are in some ways similar to us. So try your best to find some common grounds while still being authentic and true to yourself. You can also use the matching and mirroring techniques that I mentioned before.
And last but not least, no one likes jerks or an egotistical narcissist! So staying humble is key to increase likability.
- The power of scripts
When I started my job in sales, I was not given any scripts to use. All I had was a list of merchants around the town and their contact information. After a while as I continued my journey as a sales rep, I realized I am using a lot of the same vocabulary, tonality, openings and endings. What was once all from the top of my head and natural way of talking to different merchants, was now a set of repeated sentences to handle objections and other things said in very similar ways.
There is some debates whether you as a salesperson should use scripts or not. Do they make you sound inauthentic? If you ask me, my answer would be, as long as the script is true and natural to you yourself, not your colleague and not your boss, then you should absolutely take advantage of them.
And when it comes to your personal life, think of the most important moments of your life. The proposal, the thesis defence and so on. Chances are they were all scripted and yet they sounded as natural as they could be. So why not using scripts for less significant but a little more frequent things in life? Things like asking for a promotion, a job interview asking for a favor. Just remember that scripting is all about preparedness. It means trying to find out the objections and how to handle them.
I hope you will find this article helpful. So take a moment and think about what you just read and try to relate to it.