While the financial reward of being a good salesman has it’s
appeal, I’ve not historically been good at selling things to people. (Or at least that’s the story I’ve told myself!)
The last time I was trying to “sell” (as a career) was during the down economy in the early 2000s.
No one was buying, and I wasn’t making any money trying.
I’m an introvert, mostly — again, one of the things that I tell myself. I’ve practiced becoming more extroverted. I’ve intentionally put myself into situations where I need to be more extroverted.
One reason I’m drawn to persuasion because I see it as a way to interact with people. It allows me to better understand their motivations and behaviors, and to better connect with them. It pushes me to do so.
Sales, on the other hand, is a whole different beast of persuasion. To be “salesy” meant to be a smooth talker, pushing the right buttons. (Bushra Azhar is a whiz at this!)
I was never great as a smooth talker and therefore I thought maybe I wasn’t a great salesman.
Or so I thought.
Harry Browne’s The Secret of Selling Anything is an excellent introduction to his five-step approach to selling. It opened my eyes to the selling process and has helped me to understand the methods and motivations of the sales attempts I see around me.
No flashy sales talk required.
This book has changed my understanding of “sales.”
If you’re in sales, you’ll find some very valuable information in this book. If you think you’re not in sales… think again.
10 Things YOU’LL LEARN from
The Secret of Selling Anything
1 All Individuals Seek Happiness
The actions we take are designed to improve our own happiness. Every decision we make has our happiness at its heart. We may be pushing to improve our long term happiness, or our short term happiness… It may even turn out to be a mistake. We make decisions to improve our happiness.
2 Happiness is Relative
What makes one person happy isn’t the same as what makes you or me happy. What appeals to one person isn’t the same as what appeals to another. (This motivated self interest is what drives capitalism as the most successful economic system we’ve created.)
3 Resources are Limited
We all have limited time, money, and other resources. We’re forced to choose how to spend them. That choice forces us to value some aspects over others. Everyone has different values that come from upbringing, family dynamics, life lessons, financial situations, knowledge and education, job titles, personal history, and more. Their actions reflect the values that in turn make them happy.
4 Secret of Selling Anything Sales Step One: Listen
When you’re trying to make a sale, you need to know what your customer is looking for. Ask your prospect what his or her specific problems are. Learn his motivations and frustrations that drive his behavior. Learn his values about this topic. Find out what’s been missing in the past. Ask questions.
5 Secret of Selling Anything Sales Step Two: Summarize
You want your prospect to feel heard and understood. If you’re not understanding his specific concerns, you’re not talking his language. After the prospect has told you everything about his position, verbally summarize his motivations. You want to agree on the problem that needs to be solved.
6 Not Every Sale is a Right Fit
People don’t want to feel coerced into buying what you’re selling. If your product doesn’t fit your prospect’s needs, it’s best to be honest about that. You can even point him in the right direction. Your prospect will respect you when you help him solve his problems, even if it’s not your product doing so.
7 Secret of Selling Anything Sales Step Three: Present
At this point you’ll want to present your product. Only hit upon the specific details that are relevant to his concerns and motivations. Any time you spend talking about the details that you find interesting is time spent not solving the client’s problem.
8 Secret of Selling Anything Sales Step Four: Answer Questions
After you’ve presented your product, ask if your prospect has any questions. Listen to the questions and respond honestly. At this point you are working together to solve your client’s problem. Any concern he has is a valid concern to him, and you should address it.
9 Listen ~ Agree ~ Suggest
Anything that the client discusses is directly related to his satisfaction with your product. Listen to his concerns, ask more questions. People are defensive if you try to shut them down. Instead, agree that he has a point. Then suggest how your product might still solve this, or consider how you could perhaps adjust the product or the terms of sale.
10 Secret of Selling Anything Sales Step 5: Closing
After all questions have been addressed, review what’s come before in this conversation. Remind the client of your summarized understanding. Remind him of the benefits your product provides which meet his specific concerns. Remember, you’re working together to solve your client’s problem.
Closing a sale doesn’t need to feel salesy. After you two agree that your product does this, a simple question can close the sale. “Should I write this up when I return to the office?” or “How soon should we get started?” are easy ways to move the conversation to the close.
If the client doesn’t buy, review Steps 2 and 3. What are you missing that the client values? Can you provide this or can you meet his current needs in a better way?
Harry Browne’s The Secret of Selling Anything highlights what a good sales process should feel like. Each side should come away knowing the client’s problem was solved. At no point is the salesperson trying “pull one over” on the client.
As Browne points out, nothing in this approach requires the salesperson to be flashy or an extrovert. In fact, a lot of the talking is done by the client when explaining his frustrations, concerns, and values.
The salesperson is there to provide solutions that the customer will only buy if he feels it meets his needs.
So show him how your product does that.