How to Not Suck at Selling

Posted on: May 11, 2016


The number one way to not suck, suck less or do well at selling is to stop selling.

Stop trying to sell !!

I did hardcore sales for about two and a half years. I sold trend forecasting information for a startup with a ridiculous name that nobody could remember and sounded like names of a few other companies. Also, even though the information I was selling was proprietary, most prospects didn’t understand why they should have to pay for information of any kind, since you can find so much stuff for free, online. And, finally, trying to describe the product was about as easy as trying to describe air.

The odds were not in my favor.

Suffice it to say, the job was like two and a half years of boot camp for sales. However, it was one of the most important jobs I’ve ever had because I learned how to sell without selling. Nobody taught me how to do it (not that I believe anyone can actually be taught how to sell,) I figured it out myself. And, I suppose, given the negative perception of sales people, having my clients tell me they never felt like I was “selling” them or, better yet, that I never annoyed them (weird compliment,) was a testament to my ability.

Here’s are some things you might want to try.

1 – Get rid of the “what’s in it for me” attitude.  

Starting a conversation with the intention of “getting” something from someone else” is not a good thing for a number of reasons. First, you’re attaching yourself to an outcome, so you can’t possibly be present in the conversation. This leads into the second reason – if you’re not present, you can’t listen well and you can’t be authentic. How can you listen well when you’re waiting to start talking again and continue trying to sell? Just like the phrase “dogs can smell fear,” people can sense inauthenticity. When you’re attached to an outcome, you’re not being yourself and you’ve turned into the stereotypical slimy used car salesman-esque salesperson. Would you want to talk to someone like that?

2 – Do your research. 

Obviously your product or service doesn’t benefit every person or industry so, figure out which one is the best fit. Research those industries and research the people you are approaching. When you familiarize yourself with a prospect, when you become fully versed in THEIR language, they will understand that you are not a human robocaller. They will know that you are speaking to them for a reason, other than wanting to get something from them. They will most likely have more trust in you and be more willing to listen to what you have to say. Which leads to #3

3– Remember that sales is, really, just a conversation.  

You think a prospect might need what you are selling so you need to find out if you’re right. How do you do that? When you get them on the phone or sit across from them in your meeting, always ask questions. Be curious. Listen to the answers. If you turn out to be right, continue the conversation by educating them as to why. Explain why they need what you have, how it will make their lives easier or better, and why your product is better than your competitor’s. And, hopefully this is a given but, when you explain all of this, don’t lie or stretch the truth and never overpromise. They’ll find out and you’ll lose a future contact.

In sales you don’t want to lose contacts because relationships are everything.

Sales is tricky and challenging. But, learning how to be good at it will help you in ALL areas of your life. Why? Because we are selling all the time. If you’re trying to get a friend to understand your point of view (if theirs is different,) you’re selling your idea, if you have kids and you want them to do X (something they’re not happy about,) you’re selling them the reasons they need to do X.

If you forget about the word selling and substitute it with educating, maybe it will be less intimidating, you’ll have a more positive approach and you won’t suck anymore.