Unlocking the Secret
Several years back a scientist asked me how she could become a successful connector and salesperson. She said something very unusual. “Even if I created a device that could save the world or cure cancer, no one would buy from me, but they would buy it from you. People will buy anything from you. Why is that?”
Then she asked me one more question: “How do you do what you do?”
What Comes Naturally
I began by reverse engineering my sales process. Where does a sale actually start with me? How do I greet people? How do I connect with them and memorize their names–and then what do I do next?
I spent days reflecting on these questions and wrote pages of notes. As I did so, I realized what I thought “came naturally” to me was really the result of years (I’ll admit it: decades) of training and experience.
My friend’s innocent question turned into a quest for me. I did a lot of client research. I asked people why they first chose to do business with me and why they continued. That led me to think about other sale people and I began to talk with them. I had candid conversations I’d never had before: about sales and connecting as a craft, about how these experts felt about their profession, and about what they thought made their customers and themselves tick. My customers shared what it felt like to have me as their sales representative and through these intimate conversations I uncovered the qualities they most respected in me and their best and most treasured sales professional relationships.
At the end of all this I went back to my notes and discovered that almost every skilled connector and great sales person shares these traits: they are approachable, authentic and credible. My quest was over. I found my secret to success!
Trait 1- Be Approachable
This idea isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it is rare to find people who are really comfortable approaching others or genuinely like being approached by strangers. Isn’t amazing how truly challenging this step can be for many of us? A warm smile and the right attire are your critical introduction. Uncross your arms, brighten up your eyes, and get ready to be approached. Stop being such a crabby pants! This trait cannot be faked, but if your heart is willing, it can absolutely be taught. This is where your genuine connection starts.
Trait 2- Be Real
Anyone can be a schmoozemeister, it does not take skill, nor is it a worthy craft. If you want to be in the business of selling anything you must be prepared to show your REAL self in order to connect. There’s no getting around this one. Connecting with others is the most important skill you’ll ever need to know to be successful in life and business, whether you choose sales as a profession or not. Look inward: to connect with others you must connect with yourself first. Work on getting to know you and do it now. People can smell a fake a mile away. Can’t you?
Trait 3- Be Credible
Let me say it plainly, you have to know your stuff. You may be likable (and good for you!) but your prospective clients must know you can deliver on your brand promise. This is where your genuine connection with your customer bears fruit: it creates the moments for you to share your knowledge in a confident and meaningful way. Your purpose in sales, no matter what you are selling, is to create a safe environment where people like and trust you enough to want to buy (and enjoy buying) whatever you are offering. The same formula applies whether your product is an idea, a service or that machine that saves the world.
A REAL Connector
An exceptional connector must have a healthy mix of all three traits in order to be successful. For example; being approachable without credibility does not work. Nor does the reverse, as in the case of my scientist friend, who is highly credible, but not very approachable, yet. Since I have shared what I learned with my scientist friend, she has become more comfortable selling herself and really connecting with others. She continues to develop her new-found traits as they don’t come naturally to her (she’s a scientist after all!) but she has a powerful desire to be more approachable, real, credible and successful in relationships and to that I say, “You Go, Girl!”.