Persuasion Masters: The Psychology of Great Salesmen (It’s Not What You Think)

You’re in sales.

You’re a salesman.

You can flatly deny this and say, “No I’m not, I’m a computer engineer,” (or any other profession or role). But you can’t deny the fact that at some point in your professional life, you needed to persuade somebody of something.

Whether it’s persuading your boss to give you a raise…

…persuading your colleague to cover your shift

…persuading a prospect that hiring you is a good idea

…persuading your investors to loan you some money.

In short, you’re “selling” something—a product, service, idea, yourself, etc.—and you need people to believe in what you’re saying.

So yeah, you’re in sales, whether you like it or not.

Here are some powerful persuasion lessons from the world’s top salesmen:

Drop The Standard Sales Pitch

Many people, when selling, use a standard pitch that they give to everybody. It’s usually canned and has been perfected through use.

But Dale Carnegie, one of the most famous salesmen in history, in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” discusses how people are motivated by their self-interest.

And people have different interests and concerns, and the most successful salespeople are the ones who can quickly align with these varying interests.

So a standard sales pitch that works on everybody, every time, does not exist. You are going to have to tailor-fit it to the people listening to you.

Sure you can make a standard pitch that covers all the bases. But then it’s going to be unbearably long, and you’re going to lose the sale–like an endless landing page that loses the customer at the 37th minute.

For example, a real estate agent might think that a house is a great buy. But he or she has to present it according to the interests of the buyers.

So, what tickles their fancy?

Is it the large space at the back of the property?

Is it an excellent school minute away?

Is it the great financial terms?

Is it the gorgeous kitchen?

Is it a distinct possibility for resale?

You have to know what gets them excited and pound on it. Hard and often.

You don’t use gummy worms or marshmallows to bait fish. They won’t bite.

Use the bait that gets you the bite.

Don’t Sell The Product

Steve Jobs, considered by many as one of the greatest salesman in history, was famous for selling stuff people didn’t know they needed.

Folks weren’t dying to have the iPad and the iPhone so Apple made them. People didn’t know they’d even want these products. Apple made the experience so alluring that it compelled people to line up at their stores days before product launches.

The line, “Customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” is attributed to the Apple founder. And what he showed them was not just a new phone. He showed them an experience.

(Going by the real estate example earlier, he was not selling a house. He was selling the view.)

Often the products we are selling are just a means to an end. So instead of giving a dry listing of the functions and features of the product, he shifted the smartphone paradigm by demonstrating how it worked–scintillating the senses of the Apple faithful.

Selling the product is boring. More importantly, it exposes you to objections (eg. price).

Sell the experience, instead. (It’s priceless!)

This brings us to the strategies that work best when selling:

Storytelling—It builds a positive expectation for your customers. By telling them of others who have benefitted from the product or service, you are teasing prospects on how it can also work for them.

Demonstration—With a simple demonstration, we go a step higher. Stories are great, but having the thing working before their very eyes, showing them how it takes their problems away is even better. So any chance you get, powerfully demonstrate your offerings. (Take them out of the “box.”)

Interactive and Immersive experience—This is yet another step higher. Demonstrations are great, but it still hasn’t fully bridged the gap between the product and the consumer. Stories allow people to imagine an experience, demonstrations allow people to witness an experience. But having the clients use the product or try the service, is the experience.

Don’t Sell At All.

The hungry don’t get fed.

Have you rejected a sale because you felt that the person across the table was such a hard sell? The product might have been great, and it might have been priced attractively, but he was just too pushy that it turned you off from a great deal.

Nobody likes to feel pressured or manipulated into buying something.

Nobody wants to buy from a pushy and desperate seller.

And sure, you might be able to make a sale that way from time to time, but in a business where “repeat business” is the name of the game, you’ve already burned that bridge.

So don’t be tied to the outcome. Instead, be married to the process so you can get better at it.

Brian Tracy, the trainer to a thousand sales classes, once said: “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude.” Losing the sale is not the end of the world. Move on.

Speaking of which…

Let The NOs Lead To The YES

In all likelihood, the best salesman in a company has heard more NOs than the worst member of the team. Not only this, but he might also be generating these NOs at a faster clip.

Great salesmen are not perfect. They get shot down too. But they quickly shake it off. They learn the lesson and quickly move on. They get through the NOs faster, which means they get also get to the Yeses faster.

Folks who will never get better crumble after a No. And they’re afraid to ever hear it again. So they stall as long as they can, using every trick in the book, just to protect themselves from hearing another negative. So they get slower over time, making fewer pitches, and doing fewer cold calls.

This leads to each pitch becoming burdened with significance and blown out of proportion. As a result, they get nervous, desperate, and pushy—all things that don’t lead to the sale.

Meanwhile, the best salespeople are blasting through their requisite No’s.

Og Mandino, author of the classic “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” said, “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

Those NOs lead to Yeses…as long as you quickly pick up the lessons along the way.

This is how great salesmen think:

They adjust to the client. (Drop the standard sales pitch.)

They sell an experience. (Don’t sell the product.)

They are not desperate. (Don’t sell at all.)

They are not afraid of rejection. (Let the No’s lead to the Yes.)

If you want to progress in any field, adopt these mindsets. Be in “sales.”

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