A few nights ago I met up with some friends who were celebrating at a nice restaurant in town for an after dinner drink. The waiter came by to show us the desert menu, cordials, etc. When I asked the waiter what he recommended, he led with, "Well if you are looking at the $15 price range, I'd go with this, and if you are looking in the $25 price range, I'd go with that."
Immediately he lost me. I started thinking about numbers and prices and that's not what I wanted. I then proceeded to coach him on how to sell to me: "So if money were not an issue, what would you recommend to me? Something robust, full-bodied, complex." And immediately he picked an entirely different cordial that I could feel had nothing to do with price-points. You see, I wanted to feel his passion for his products. I wanted to trust his guidance and that he knew his craft. I shook my head when he walked away as I knew I was coaching him, and it was my time-off!
Connection comes before numbers
The main issue that got more obvious over the evening is that he didn't care about his service. At least on that day, he was not enjoying himself. And this showed in his lack of care for his customers, and getting lazy around going right to the price-point versus building rapport, getting curious about his patrons, sharing what he enjoys, or creating an image or picture that would have engaged me.
Sales is the great mirror
Sales forces you to come to terms with how much you really stand behind your products, services, and yourself. Sales becomes painful when the salesperson doesn't really believe in themselves and what they are selling. This can look many different ways: such as getting really pushy with their products and services from this insecurity, or underselling themselves and giving away too much. Becoming apathetic. Missing opportunities left and right.
Sales can show you how much you really care about people
The good sales people have a knack for actually caring about what they do. Their passion is palpable. They are connected to their products and services versus being a means to an end. And the really good ones also care about people. They are listening for the best interest of all parties. If it's not a fit, they don't force it. If the prospect is going to balk and they know that this person needs this product or service, they'll stand for it.
The greatest transformations in business that I see happen around sales is when business owners and their staff get right with their own products and services. When they first get the value of what they are offering and standing for this financially. There's something that clicks when they take all that pressure of themselves and realize they are simply having a conversation and getting curious about the other and their needs.
In fact, in the introduction of Daniel Pink's book, To Sell is Human, he normalizes selling as "the ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have." He takes the bad stigma out of sales and reminds us all that it's part of how we relate to each other - whether it's an idea we're passionate about, a vision, motivation, helping each other, etc.
I've had my own journey with sales and used to abhor it. I thought it was gimmicky, slick, and that the other person did not have my best interest. In college I took a job as a telemarketer, and lasted 2 days. I couldn't sell these magazines that I could care less about. And knowing that I was 'that guy' that people did not want to hear on the other end of the phone ended it. All the free pizza in the world couldn't keep me there any longer. I was not connected to anything of value in that position.
I've grown to love the sales process as I now only sell what is real for me. What I can stand behind. From here it's fun. It becomes an opportunity to connect and share the value that I'm offering, and not over-grabbing or pushing away if the prospect doesn't respond. It is a conversation and a chance to build relationships that could last a lifetime with your business.