When was the last time you got what you really wanted? All too often, we find ourselves taking what we’re given, instead of asking for what we deserve.
Whether in our work life or our personal life, we settle for the second best. Why? Because we’re too scared of hearing the word no.
But in this article, I’m going to show you that you can get what you want – from that big promotion to that small favour you’d like to ask a friend – it can all be yours. All you need to do is sell.
You’ll learn the secrets of discovering how selling can help you progress in every area of your life.
You’ll explore the reasons why you shouldn’t leave sales to the professionals, and reveal the simple tips and tricks that will help you sell yourself, your company, and your ideas.
Selling Is Already Part Of Your Everyday Life
Have you ever persuaded a child to eat her vegetables, or talked your boss into giving you a raise? If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then you’re a salesperson. You just didn’t know it.
Now, you might be thinking that selling is best left to the professionals. But the fact is, you’re already doing it.
Regardless of your job title, every time you interact with your colleagues, your customers, or your boss, you’re selling them something.
We often think about sales in the context of specific products. But sales can mean selling an idea, or a way of doing something, or even selling ourselves.
I have a friend who was a university professor – a job that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with sales. But she still had to sell her students on turning up to her classes and meeting deadlines with their assignments.
Later, when she wanted to quit academia and start working in sales, she had to persuade a sales company to give her a job, even though she had no experience. This meant that she needed to sell herself.
Whenever you try to bring someone over to your way of thinking, you’re selling.
Consider a middle manager who wants her team to buy into the new company initiative of working weekend shifts. This manager isn’t selling a product or herself, but she is selling a new process. And the stakes could be just as high.
If this all comes as a shock, try not to worry too much. The good news is that you’ve been training for a sales career ever since you were a young child.
Just consider how much effort children put into getting their own way.
Kids aren’t afraid to passionately persuade their parents that they should be allowed candy, or that they should get a new puppy for Christmas.
But whilst children are great sellers, most adults are nervous about selling. As we grow up, we’re taught that we shouldn’t inconvenience people by asking for favours, and that it’s polite to take no for an answer.
We’re told we should settle for what we’re given, instead of reaching for more. These inhibitions mean that even though we have the ability to sell, we don’t use it. The result? We miss out on opportunities to get what we want out of life.
In the following section, I will talk about the five-step sales process, to help you reveal your inner salesperson.
Having A Plan To Sell
Selling is crucial to your success, but when sales opportunities come knocking, many people struggle to make the most of them.
Consider, for example, a scenario in which you have an opportunity to sell yourself and your ideas. You open your mouth to talk, but there’s a problem. You’re tongue-tied. Your words don’t come out right, and you don’t make that sale.
This kind of awkward situation often happens because you don’t have a plan. That’s why the first step of the five-step sales process is planning.
You might not realize it, but most of your daily life revolves around planning; from setting your alarm clock at night, to writing daily to-do lists, to scheduling dinner with friends.
If you’re not making plans, you’re probably not getting a lot done. Sales is no different.
To create a plan for your sales, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions.
The first question to ask is what do I want? What’s your overall goal that selling is going to help you work toward?
Knowing your preferred outcome lets you identify priorities and tasks that will help you achieve it. But if you don’t know exactly what it is you want, then chances are you won’t get it.
So try and nail it down in your plan. Perhaps what you want is to become a partner in your law firm. Or maybe your goal is more short-term. Maybe you’re meeting with your boss soon, and you want to persuade her to hire an assistant for you.
The second question you need to ask yourself is who can help me?
In this stage of the plan, you need to think about who has the power to grant you what you want.
All too often, we waste time persuading people who simply can’t help us.
Imagine, for example, that you’re trying to get a refund for a jacket, but the deadline for claiming a refund has passed.
In this scenario, it’s no good trying to sell the junior sales clerk on why they should let you return the jacket. He simply doesn’t have the power to allow it.
Instead, you need to speak to the manager, who has the authority to grant your request. So do your homework, and identify the person who can help you to achieve your goal.
Socializing And Sales Go Hand In Hand
Now that you’ve planned how to sell yourself or your ideas, it’s time to seek out interactions where you can put your plan to the test.
The next step in the program is to look for opportunities to make a sale. One of the best places to create selling opportunities is at networking events.
The first tip is to simply go. You might not relish the thought of spending time with strangers, but meeting new people will give you important new contacts to sell to. So make sure you go to that company picnic, or that client lunch, and get in front of people.
Once you’re at an event, another good tip is to have fun, or at least look like you’re having fun.
People will be more likely to approach you if you’re smiling, and they’ll also be more likely to say yes when you eventually ask them for what you want.
Next up, don’t forget to talk. You might think you’re the only one who doesn’t enjoy chitchat with strangers, but actually, many people you’ll meet will also feel shy.
So dive into small talk – you’ll be surprised how grateful people are that you’re kicking off the conversation.
That said though, remember to watch what you say.
Topics like politics, sex, and religion aren’t appropriate for networking chitchat, so try to stick to subjects like work, family vacations, or even the latest movies in the cinema.
As you’re talking, stay vigilant for what other people are saying. Do they mention a problem that you could help them solve?
Perhaps they hint that one of their employees is about to go on maternity leave, and they’re looking for someone to provide cover during their absence. That someone could be you.
If you don’t feel comfortable jumping in and selling yourself, you could always ask them to meet again, perhaps over lunch, or even just over the phone.
When it comes to sales, the follow-up meeting is a big leap forward, so don’t forget to nail down the second date!
Finally, plan to exit conversations with grace during networking events. You don’t want to get stuck talking to one person for the entire evening, but you also don’t want to seem rude, so plan a polite exit strategy before you start chatting.
Get People To Trust You
When was the last time you really listened to what another person was saying?
Many people assume that listening simply involves allowing the other person to speak, but great listening goes far beyond this.
We often say we’re listening when we’re actually distracted. Perhaps we’re really checking our phones, or we’re already planning what we’ll say once the other person finishes talking.
We think the other person doesn’t notice that we’re not giving them our full attention, but the awkward truth is, they do.
When it comes to sales, you can’t afford to get distracted when the other person is talking. That’s because the next step of the plan is establishing trust.
If you trust someone, you’re more likely to buy what they’re selling, because you think they have your best interests at heart.
You assume they wouldn’t sell you something you don’t want or need. So if the person you’re selling trusts you, she’s more likely to give you what you want. You can build trust with your buyer by showing a genuine interest in her point of view, and her circumstances.
Importantly, the only way you can show this interest, and develop an understanding, is by taking the time to listen carefully to what your client says.
Another way to establish trust with people is to ensure you choose a convenient time to sell to them.
If you approach them at the wrong time, it will make them feel as if you don’t understand, or care about, their needs.
So don’t ask for that raise when you already know your boss is having a bad day. Not only is he more likely to say no, he’ll also resent that you’ve given him something else to think about.
Waiting for the right time can take courage. My friend, for example, secured a great opportunity to pitch her business to an investor. The only problem was, he showed up with a bad hangover.
My friend quickly realized that this was not the right time to try and make a sale to him. Instead, she gathered her courage and insisted they reschedule for a time when he was feeling better.
This was the smart thing to do – it wasn’t the right time for the buyer, so it wasn’t the right time for the seller, either.
Ask For What You Want
Sometimes it’s tricky to ask for what you deserve. I know a brilliant graphic designer called Samuel. Samuel always delivered excellent work on his projects, going above and beyond to do a great job.
But despite his skills and commitment, Samuel was being paid significantly less than the other designers at the company. Why? Because he couldn’t bring himself to ask for a fair wage.
Samuel kept working for an inferior salary, hoping that his boss would eventually notice his brilliance and offer him more.
But unfortunately, sales don’t work like that. Most managers don’t go around offering money or benefits to their employees.
Samuel didn’t ask for what he wanted because he was afraid of hearing no. Like many people who don’t like sales, he was afraid of inconveniencing someone else, taking up someone’s time, and asking another person to spend money.
If these fears sound familiar, don’t let them hold you back from selling. Consider the fact that the person you’re asking is probably worried about inconveniencing you.
In fact, studies show that people typically feel guilty about saying no to someone’s request. This just goes to show that, most of the time, people do want to help others and give them what they want, if they possibly can.
If your fears about selling are still holding you back, then it’s worth asking yourself the following questions.
What do you have to gain if you get what you want, and what do you have to lose if you don’t?
In Samuel’s case, he would have gained a pay rise, and his only potential loss would be having to continue working for less money than his coworkers. That’s it.
He wasn’t in danger of being fired, or losing his boss’s respect. It’s also worth considering what the absolute worst-case scenario would be like if you were to be told no.
In Samuel’s case, it was that he might have to start looking for another job that would pay him what he deserved.
You should also think about what you’ll say if you do receive a no. Being prepared for a negative outcome will bolster your courage and remove some of the uncertainty from the situation.
If the worst happens, you’ll already know what to say to handle it smoothly and politely.
Develop Long-term Relationships
You might think that getting what you want is the end of the story. Perhaps you got that raise, or won that new business. But if you’re going to be successful, then making a sale should only be the beginning.
Once you have a yes from the person you’re selling to, you’ve closed one opportunity, but a whole raft of new opportunities have now opened up. That’s why the last step of this five-step method is follow-up.
Your first opportunity to follow up is to show other people your gratitude. Why not take the time to mail them a handwritten card, or send a bunch of flowers to their office, to say thank you for granting you what you wanted.
Not only will it make the other people feel good to be appreciated, but it will also help you to recognize how important they are on your journey to success.
No one ever makes it alone – when we show our gratitude, we acknowledge this universal truth.
You also nurture your sales relationships by offering to do someone a favor in return. For instance, if someone has helped you by referring people to your business, then you in turn could refer your clients to their business.
However you choose to show gratitude, or continue your relationship, the most important thing is to do something.
The worst thing you can do is to make the sale and then never contact the person again. This kind of behavior makes people feel used, and hurt, and it’s known in sales as the pitch and ditch.
The pitch and ditch also has negative consequences for you. This is because it precludes any possibility of you selling to that person again.
If someone has said yes to you once, they likely will again, because they probably like you and trust you.
If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have bought from you in the first place. So when you simply take their help or their money and run, you’re limiting your future sales.
If you act like this with every person you sell to, you’ll always be forced to sell to strangers. Selling to strangers is more difficult and more awkward than selling to people you already have a relationship and a rapport with.
So once you get your yes, do whatever it takes to make sure you stay in touch.
You’re never going to get what you want if you’re too afraid to ask for it.
Developing your sales skills will give you the tools and the confidence to go after what you want, and to persuade others to give it to you.
This being said, opportunities to sell yourself and your ideas aren’t just going to fall in your lap.
You’ll need to be bold in seeking out new contacts, asking the right questions, and planning what to say when objections and obstacles come your way.?