Most people hate sales. They think of it as sleazy, dishonest and aggressive. If you watch movies like Glengarry Glen Ross, Wolf of Wall Street or Boiler Room, you know what I’m talking about.
Here’s the thing though, if you want to be really successful, you need to know what sales is all about. You don’t have to be able to sell ice to eskimos, but you need to have a thorough understanding of the underlying psychology and how to do it.
Better yet, get a job actually doing sales even for a short while, because it will teach you the following things crucial for success.
1. You talk to people…a lot
Everyone is so damn scared to pick up the phone nowadays. People want to text, email, message, anything but actually talking to another person that isn’t their family or close friends.
When you’re in sales you need to talk to people because there are a lot of cues like voice tonality, facial expression, hand gestures, and posture that tell you what someone is thinking.
You learn to get comfortable doing it, which means that when you have to reach out to people in other parts of your life, you don’t get nervous anymore. How many of you have been nervous to simply pick up the phone and make a restaurant reservation? After a month in sales, you won’t be.
“You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.” – Patricia Fripp
2. You learn to read people
This is a big one. When you start talking to a lot of people that want something (ie a product), you’ll learn how to read what kind of personality they have and learn to speak to them appropriately in order to sell them your product.
This will also do wonders for your relationships in real life, because when you know how people prefer to be interacted with you can change your approach and have them eating out of your hand. The best leaders are very good at doing this.
That asshole boss you can’t stand, he’s the guy that will only interact with people according to his personality. This is why people walk away star struck from meeting certain celebrities and politicians, because they have mastered the art of reading people and know how to interact on their level and make them feel important.
3. You learn to influence people
Everyone wants to influence people. It’s the sexy term for business management, as though it’s some magic act like Obi Wan Kenobi telling the storm troopers “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”.
Influence isn’t about tricking people, or bulldozing them into doing what you want. Influence is simply being able to read people and putting your point across in the way that is most palatable for them.
This links right in with point number 2 – if you can’t read people, if you can’t work out what kind of personality they have, then you aren’t going to be able to convince them. Sometimes it can be something as simple as letting the silence get uncomfortable after someone makes you an offer. If you don’t say anything, most of the time they will revise upwards.
4. You learn how to sell
I don’t just mean sell products or services. You learn to sell anything. How many of you will go into your boss’s office and ask for a raise? Or better yet, wanting to succeed at a job interview?
Sales is about overcoming a customer’s objections, and you keep seeking them out until there are no more objections to your product. Right now you ask for a raise and say things like “umm I’m a good worker, I’ve been with the company a long time etc”.
With some time in sales, you’ll first of all have the confidence to actually talk to your boss and not stammer through the entire process. Secondly, you’ll have a good idea of their possible objections, so you’ll have come up with your rebuttals before you even get in the meeting.
You’ll have an idea of haggling to meet a mutually desirable outcome because you do it everyday. You’ll know what sort of personality they have before you go in, so you’ll know the best possible way to deliver the message. While success isn’t guaranteed, you’ve just improved your chances by 1000%.
5. You think you’re an introvert
Being an introvert is the cool new thing, like being intolerant to gluten and you know what? It’s bullshit. A large amount of young people think they’re introverts because they’ve spent most of their lives interacting with people behind a screen and believe that is somehow normal.
If you think that being around people and making conversation is somehow strange or a chore, you’re on the wrong side of being a human. We are a social species, and whatever your skills may be, the people that make it to the top in any business generally have good people skills.
When you’re in sales, you don’t have the luxury of interacting with people behind a screen. Can you guess how successful selling through text is? Here’s a hint – it’s not. I used to think I was a bit of an introvert until I realized that the only reason I felt uncomfortable interacting with people was because I wasn’t good at it. Dealing with people is a skill just like many other things and the more you practice it, the more comfortable you feel and the better you get at it.
“To me, job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business.” – Harvey Mackay
The great thing about sales is that you get paid a low base rate because you make most of your money on commissions. Many people find such a notion utterly terrifying because all they can think about is the small sum they are guaranteed. They would rather earn $40,000 as a salary than earn $25,000 with a decent chance at earning another $60,000 in commission.
Sales makes you hungry for success, because success means money. You can’t get by just doing the bare minimum like a lot of other jobs, you have to be out there all the time chasing down leads and learning how to close.
Essentially, your pay is based entirely on your performance, so it’s all on you. It’s almost primal in a sense, because back when we lived in tribes, if you wanted to eat you had to catch that animal running away from you. If you gave up the chase, if you didn’t want it bad enough, guess who goes hungry?