What are the words do most people think of when they hear the word salesman? Be honest and write down the first words that come to mind when you hear that word. I do this exercise at the beginning of all our training programs, and the words my clients share with me aren’t very complimentary. And the scary part is these are salespeople I am asking. No need to throw the list out here, but let’s remember that most of the salespeople that preceded you helped reinforce those images. You know, the show and tell, dog and pony show, fast talkers, phony consultative sellers that no one really wants to spend time with if they had a choice. Those people make it hard on the people that treat selling like a profession instead of a pit stop to finding what they really want to do.
I just finished a book, The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis, and came across this little gem. The reference is to what type of interaction fosters new ideas and collaborative thinking; “the conversation really matters. Converse means to exchange with. It does not mean to transmit at. That’s how you get new thinking” Geez, isn’t that something all of us in sales should remember? Stop transmitting at people and start open and considerate, engaging conversations. Don’t our prospects and customers want to be heard more than they want to hear us? And isn’t our goal to get new thinking at least on the table, even if we don’t succeed at closing an opportunity?
My New Year’s Resolution is to practice this with more discipline wherever possible. There is no reason that our personal lives, as well as our professional lives, cannot be enhanced with a commitment to engage people to share our new ideas as well as listen and consider theirs. The simplest ideas often have the greatest impact.