How did we ever sell anything before the Internet?
In traditional face-to-face sales there is an “it factor.” Why is it that one sales rep is always number one or number two in sales results for the region? What have they got? How did they get “it”? How can we train other reps so they develop “it”? How can we hire new reps who have “it”?
And - does this logic hold up when applied to eCommerce websites, viral videos, tweets and blogs?
When I was just starting out I had the benefit of working with two of the best sales people I’ve ever known. One was a young guy from Texas who had a comfortable way of talking with people. He made them relax and the barriers came down. His boss was a guy in his mid-thirties who had grown up in the Plains states. His expertise in computers had taken him from college to the CIA to private business. Somewhere along the way he had learned to talk to business owners so they could immediately see the real benefits of what he was proposing. To the casual observer, these were a couple of ordinary businessmen who drove nice cars. But in the technology industry, these guys were superstars.
Oxytocin Level = It Factor
They had the “it factor” in sales. I can only imagine how much money they would have made, if they had the power of today’s online sales and marketing tools at their disposal. It’s like asking how many home runs Babe Ruth would have hit, if he played with today’s lively baseball in hitter friendly ballparks.
Those guys taught me how to sell. And one of the most important things they got me to understand is that selling is not primarily about exteriors – website looks, viral videos and the ability to tweet a catchy line of dialogue. Selling is all about connecting with a person and moving them to a decision – hopefully a decision that involves signing an order. Cool websites and trending videos might get you in the door but that is all it gets you. Once you get down to business, you better know how to relate to the owner’s world and offer some great improvements in how they will save and make money. You cannot do everything with an online survey; at some point you actually need to connect with people. You need to get the Oxytocin flowing.
Through the years I’ve been schooled in just about every professional sales training program there is: Needs-based selling, professional sales skills, win friends, social style, personality analysis, etc. Name the sales training program and I’ve spent days learning it. The point of these sales training programs is to try to teach you something you should really be learning on your own:
- How to use all your experience in life to make a connection to another human being
- How to find out where they are and whether you can help them on their journey and,
- How to help them make a change and feel comfortable that they’re doing the right thing.
I’ve interviewed and hired hundreds of sales reps over the years. Through the years I’ve developed a list of questions I ask in an interview. But here’s the interesting part – the responses to the questions are as much about “how” as they are about “what”. I look for what their answers will reveal about how they think, how they use their life experience to relate to me, how they listen. I look for the qualities of the great salesperson that I’ve seen in the few real stars I’ve had the opportunity to work with. So here’s my list of what makes a great salesperson:
- They have confidence.
- They are street smart.
- They don’t bluff.
- They study people and understand human nature.
- They understand the power of making your life easier and improving your business.
- They’re good at role-playing but even better with a real prospect.
- They can tell a story with a beginning, middle and an end.
- They have a great conversational style.
- They can talk to you and hold your attention.
- They can be quiet and listen and when they listen, they hear.
- They will be “in the moment” during a sales call like a master of “improv.”
- They can deliver a sales script so that you’d never know it was a script.
- They will challenge your thinking.
- They have the strength to disagree and the sense to ask you why they’re wrong.
- They can make you want to buy from them.
- They connect with people well enough that even if you don’t buy today, you’ll remember them down
- How they sell is in the fabric of their being.
Websites, viral videos and social media tools have changed the way that the world does business. But never confuse marketing and sales with “doing business”. People do business with people, not “the cloud”. People don’t do business with websites, or kiosks or clickable links on iPads or smartphones. You buy online but you don’t do business with the cloud.
Did you ever have a friend or neighbor ask you to “click on a link” or watch a video (or come to a meeting about a business opportunity) as a favor? Does the mere thought of that meeting make your Oxytocin level go up or down? There are no shortcuts to success in business, no matter what your friends say on your Facebook timeline.
All of those leads that you gain from all of those tweets, and blogs and videos - why catch all of these fish if you have no viable plan to cook what you catch? Your “online” message needs to match your offline business. And that will require the right kind of people. Amazon.com gives good customer service - but it is all virtual. Zappos gives GREAT customer service - via real people who truly care. You can FEEL the customer service flow from the telephone into your ear when you do business with Zappos. It is proven that Oxytocin levels are driven up when you do business with Zappos (they measured it) and you will never meet these Zappos people face to face.
Unless of course, they invite you to their kid’s high school graduation party.