Hear me out on this, as you may have read that headline and thought to yourself “Not me, I hate doing sales”. It does not matter if you do not do sales as a job, there are plenty of times that you are in a sales situation, and knowing some of the ground rules would be of assistance to getting a better outcome.
Don’t believe me? Here are some examples of real life scenarios that decent sales skills could really help you:
–Asking someone out on a date
–Bargaining with a spouse or child
For the purpose of not losing you in the details here, if it feels more comfortable, replace “Sales” or “Selling” with the word “convincing”. If that is a more palatable term, make that switch so you get the gist of this blog post.
If you are a computer scientist by trade and you are looking for a new job, you have to sell yourself as the best candidate. Your resume could indicate that your skills and experience are better than most, if not all, other candidates, but this may not be enough. If you walk into the interview and cannot connect with your future team mates and employer, and sell them on the idea that you are the best overall candidate, you may not get the job. You have to be able to relate to others, and also show that you can be a team player and part of the organization. For those of you old enough to know who some famous NFL players like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Dez Bryant are, you now that all the talent in the world does not erase everything else needed for a team of people to come together and win. It is the same in the business world as well. If you can’t integrate into the team atmosphere and play nice with others, you will be looked at as a toxic personality and will be weeded out sooner rather than later. Each of these players were (are) Hall of Fame level receivers, but were traded multiple times and all were considered more of a team disruption than their contributions ever could outweigh.
For my non-sports fans who are reading this, look no further than any of the Housewives of _______ County TV Shows as an excellent illustration of this. The casting people do an excellent job of finding individuals with toxic personalities and contractually obligating them to interact with one another. The result is non-stop reality-TV gold, if you can call it that. It is a train wreck, and some of the lowest form of human interaction in my opinion.
Anyway, let’s get back on track here…In a job interview, you have a small window of time to make an impression that not only lasts, but proves that you are the best overall candidate. Especially if you have a resume that is a little light on experience, you MUST show that you have what they are looking for in their next team member. This is likely include things like good communication, being able to be a team player when needed, even if you are going to be managing others. Your resume gets you to the interview, it doesn’t get you the job. The interview makes or breaks you, and therefore you need to look at the interview as a chance to “sell yourself” to the company as the best candidate.
Even though each company and every interviewer is different, you will need to be able to showcase your abilities in a concise and meaningful manner when the time comes. Go Sell. It is expected that you (humbly and respectfully) brag about yourself at this time. You only get one chance to show your abilities and character, and your resume NEVER completely illustrates this. You have to sell yourself.
When it comes to dating, there is a different kind of selling that may need to be done. While I am not a big fan of the idea of “convincing” someone that they should go out with you, if there is someone who catches your eye and they do not seem to notice you right away, cue the sales job. You will see people go to outlandish lengths to get someone’s attention at times, and it can be quite laughable in reality. If theatrics are necessary to GET their attention, you may want to consider the fact that this level of theatrics may be necessary to KEEP their attention as well. That is a recipe for disaster… But even so, if there is someone you want to date, you may need to get this person to see something about you that they are not currently aware of about you. Cue the sales skills…
When it comes to selling an idea or negotiating with a family member, spouse or kids, that situations are endless. But the skills are the same as what I mentioned above, and therefore the Sales approach applies here too. I will let you expand upon this segment on your own. I think it is high time to get to the core sale skills that you need.
Here are three main points to start with…
1. Be Honest – I can’t tell you this emphatically enough, you cannot uphold the premise of a lie long enough to ever outlive it. If you are aware of a shortfall in your product or service, you need to be up front about this. If you are aware of a gap in a skill set, such as public speaking, you need to be upfront about this. Your employer is going to find out soon enough that you were untruthful, and this will likely be your demise.
2. Understand the Goal – The goal in a sales scenario is not to “talk someone into something” like many would think. Low level sales people operate this way, and it is an easy trap to fall into if you don’t know any better. What you should be striving for is to find common ground where both parties win. In my line of work, I know my company’s service helps reduce costs and has other benefits too. I don’t have any qualms about sharing what we do and how we do it, as I know that there are benefits to be had by the prospective client. I TRUST what we do, and with full confidence I educate the client to the benefits. I don’t “sell them” on anything, I simply share what benefits we offer and how our approach is likely better than what they are currently doing. Simple. THAT is high level sales.
3. Act with Integrity – This always sounds easier than it is. To be completely honest about what you want, what they want, and how these things can blend together is a tough balance to strike. Finding common ground is the goal, but there are times when you will have to give more than you get, and that is not always comfortable. To be a person of integrity means that you do the right thing, no matter what. Even if that means that you walk away from a deal, a relationship, whatever it may be, because that is the RIGHT thing to do, not necessarily the best thing for your desired outcome of a completed sale. If you are trying to land a big deal and you start to gloss over details that are obviously going to complicate things down the road, it is not the right move to make. You cannot leave a mess for others to clean up and think you are doing the right thing.
Yes, you may need a job sooner rather than later, but if you find yourself settling for a role that is for a boss you can’t trust, a service you don’t believe in, or other misjudgments, you will be suffering morally and emotionally before long. You need to look at the big picture now, and not settle thinking you can isolate yourself from these things, or work through them as they come up. In a relationship, a liar is a liar, a cheater is a cheater, and at some point these things will circle back to haunt you. It’s a matter of time; not if, but when. Don’t kid yourself….
One of the reasons everyone says that the best time to find a job is when you already have one is that the lack of true desperation will help you adhere to the three rules above. When you are 30 days from being behind on rent or your mortgage, your judgment is not as clear as it should be. You have immediate needs that may be over-riding your moral compass, and that makes you vulnerable to making bad decisions. Good luck “selling” your way out of that.
This is a lot to wrap your head around, I know. But the main takeaway is that developing some level of sales skills (understanding how to articulate your point and find a win/win as the end goal) can go a long way to getting you to the results you want. Don’t shy away from this skill set due to a lack of understanding of it, or experience with the lowest form of it (used car salesman). Polish your skills to help you move forward, to achieve, the gain the things you want. The more you expand your skill sets, the more well-rounded of a person you become. You will have more impact and more value to yourself and everyone else if you continue to add skills like this. Never stop improving…