Salespeople are the primary economic force behind driving revenue and business growth in the world! Effectively training & developing an efficient team of passionate and dedicated salespeople can position a company to radically advance & conquer in the marketplace. Globally the sales training industry is worth over $300 billion, and it continues to grow. Yet most sales training and development programs produce nothing more than a small brief burst, a twinkle of light later lost in the night sky. This is because many sales training and development programs completely ignore the most critical skill in sales.
There are many variations in sales training content. Some development firms center on process, carefully crafting a system comprised of a series of actions that yield a pre-deigned response among the masses. Such firms tout that sales is a system. Other firms focus on massive action, production, and the sheer will to do more. Such firms maintain that sales is a numbers game. Still other firms focus on communication, carefully crafting word-tracts, powerful phrases, negotiation tactics, and dramatic closes designed to win business. Such firms believe that sales is an art. Who is right?
I absolutely attest that sales is an art….sales is a system….sales is a numbers game, and much more…but sales at its best is a relationship! It’s all about influence. Systems, sheer will, words, and tactics do not build influence. True salesmanship and leadership are synonymous. The most highly educated leader with the best systems and processes will prove to be ineffective if he or she can not inspire action. In the same way a salesperson, who is a master wordsmith, who has been given the best tools and support, will never reach their full potential if he or she cannot connect.
Connecting is the most critical and underdeveloped skill in sales. Connecting is the ability to engage others emotionally for the mutual benefit of both parties.
Listen, we all know that the majority of all decisions are made emotionally and then justified logically. Being right isn’t nearly as important as your customer or client feeling that you are right….and quite frankly feeling good about you, your product and/or service. From Main Street to Wall Street decisions are based on feelings. Even the most powerful corporate leaders have publicly confirmed that “gut feeling” is their deciding factor in making decisions.
Developing the skill of connecting should be the primary focus and ultimate foundation upon which all other training builds upon. Without the skill of connecting, systems stall, willpower fades, and the best words have no depth and meaning.
The skill of connecting can be easily developed. As a matter a fact, you likely were a far better connector in your youth than you are now. In little time, you can master the skill of connecting, engaging emotion, building influence, and leveraging relationships to achieve dramatic success.
Those who connect have developed their ability the build rapport, demonstrate genuine interest, demonstrate empathy, and demonstrate vulnerability.
1: Build Rapport
People like people that are just like them or how they would like to be. As a youth, you likely had no problem being everything to everybody because you didn’t know who you really were yet. For some reason, as adults grow older, they develop a sense of who they are as individuals and they become closed-off to anything else. Mirroring, matching, pacing & leading are not old magic tricks…they are essential traits in connecting with people. Rapport is not about manipulating and fooling your customers and clients, it’s about recognizing, respecting, and enjoying who they are as individuals. Harsh reality: if more people liked you…you’d be more successful. Remember…to influence people different then me, I must act differently. That’s a fact!
2: Demonstrate Genuine Interest
In any relationship the first step to becoming interesting is to become interested. There is no substitute for sincere genuine interest. As a youth you may have been naturally inquisitive and interested in others. Maybe you were just interested in yourself….either way you likely noticed that people thrive on attention. In fact, the need to feel important is possibly the number one driving force behind our actions, second to the sex urge. Everyone wants to feel important, and many go to great lengths to achieve it. Many salespeople can “show” interest, but there is a big difference in “showing” interest and demonstrating genuine interest. Genuine interest creates an authentic service that generates influence. Being able to demonstrate a genuine interest in others a rare and valuable trait!
3: Demonstrate Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is not a sixth sense. Many refer to empathy as emotional intelligence, and it is a learned skill. Without being able to discern the emotions of others and understand them, you will never be able to understand what truly motivates your customers and clients. Emotions trump logic in sales! What truly motivates your customers and clients is less practical and more personal than you think… Salespeople that lack emotional intelligence are, in a sense, handicapped in their profession. Shared empathy is the key to unlocking your customer’s most compelling buying motives. You can sell more and win more by listening beyond the words…sometimes the words don’t even matter!
4: Demonstrate Vulnerability
Mutual vulnerability is the foundation that allows relationships to grow, and is the catalyst for connecting. As a child you were likely naturally vulnerable…willing to share all kinds of thoughts and experiences with complete strangers. This is why children make friends so much easier than adults. For adults, asking someone to share personal information without first showing vulnerability themselves is about as effective as a heavy diet… or an open secret. Adults are reserved and typically say…tell me yours and then I’ll tell you mine… Connecting is all about engaging emotions and relating on a personal level. This is not possible without mutual vulnerability. Demonstrating vulnerability is a learned skill. Winners get personal!
Investing in sales training & development is a great way to bring new profits and opportunity into a company. The best businesses are almost always made up of the best people. Business owners and management can differentiate their organizations, build a winning team, and dominate in the marketplace by developing their people. Sales is a people business… developing people skills should be the first priority in your training & development program!
Caution: Don’t ignore the most critical skill in sales. The ability to connect!
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader!” John Quincy Adams
Cornerstone Dealer Development, LLC