The Secret Sauce For Selling Anything (Especially Yourself)
By Eric Greene
How do you sell anything (especially yourself)? I’ve spent over 30 years working as an executive and entrepreneur, so I’ve been sold to for a really long time. I’ve also had to sell myself.
As an entrepreneur, you have the constant need to sell: this might mean a venture capital pitch, your product, your service, and yes, yourself. The bottom line: you need to know how to sell. Unpacking all of this, here is my perspective…
It all starts with WHAT NOT TO DO. There is much to be learned here. It’s not that these methods never work. It’s just that we can do SO MUCH BETTER. So, let’s learn from NOT being any of the following:
- Mr. or Ms. Overbearing: We all know the type. Relentless. Overbearing. Never stop coming at you. This exhausts anyone you are trying to sell to.
- The Pompous Charmer: You don’t need to bullshit people to sell to them and people can see through your false flattery in about a nanosecond.
- The Schmoozer: Tickets and dinner are nice* (*pre and post covid), but they don’t really make people buy anything.
- Ask the Prospect to Do All the Work for You: This is the scenario where you, as a seller, do none of your homework, and exhaust the prospect by peppering them with question after question after question.
- The Phony: This is where you tell the prospect what you think they want to hear. Truthful or not, this is you seeking to “fake it till you make it.”
- The Canned Robo-Speech Giver: The guy who spews page after page of canned material.
- The Stereotypical Used Car Salesperson: No offense to you if you are a car salesperson. Unless, that is, you are the type of used car salesperson that employs ridiculous, over the top sales tactics. “What do I have to do to get you into a Buick today?” “Um…err…I don’t know if I can make that deal. Why don’t you enjoy a doughnut while I go check with my manager?”
- The Exaggerating Over-Promiser: Someone who promises the world, constantly stretching the truth, what you can expect, what’s possible.
If the above represent what not to do, then what’s the secret sauce for selling anything – including yourself?
HERE IT IS:
THE BEST SALESPEOPLE DON’T SELL AT ALL.
Whether you’re selling something or selling yourself, you don’t need to schmooze, bullshit, exaggerate, or pontificate.
Just do your research. Know your audience. Understand their needs. And then have some insight, ideas and expertise. Talk to them, show them you understand and tell them how you can specifically help them. Just be your authentic self, do those things and you will sell more.
Here’s an example from the Tech world. In the recent past I worked with sales teams at some of the largest tech companies in the world (Cisco, IBM, SAS and similar). In each case, key sales execs were charged with creating high level, high dollar deals with CxO’s in other large companies. Here is what was interesting:
- The more these sales execs came in and only talked technology to their CxO prospects (features, functions, performance benefits), the lower their sales performance
- On the other hand, the more these sales executives instead did prior research, talked to their prospects about their needs, explained at a high level how the technology solved problems/met their needs/created opportunity around their needs, tied the technology to goals and financial performance….THE MORE THESE EXECUTIVES SOLD. While exact sales increase numbers are proprietary, I can tell you that the increase in results was startling.
In other words, even at a high level with millions of dollars at stake, doing research, understanding needs and demonstrating how ideas/solutions meet those needs is the most powerful path to persuading prospects. As I said before, the best way to sell is not selling at all. It’s simply researching, understanding and meeting needs.
Sounds simple, right? And yet it isn’t done nearly often enough. Don’t sell. Don't bullshit. Just understand, solve problems and be authentic.
Like I said, the best salespeople don't sell at all.
Eric Greene is a proven executive turned success/executive coach + team facilitator at the Greenehouse (www.GHouseCoaching.com). Pouring my experience (startup, 3 successful entrepreneurial ventures, former President, CxO, EVP/GM) into helping you work smarter. Lead better. Stress less. Kick ass. And find more joy in doing it.