5 Tips to Make Sales Work For You

Back in November, I wrote a piece about how we are all in sales to some degree.  Even if you’re not selling a product to an outsider, chances are you still have to sell an idea to an internal constituency or a promotion to your boss.

Earlier this year, my friend Dan Pink launched a new book that’s much along the same lines.  In To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others, Pink says that sales is really about moving people and convincing them to cooperate with you.  Anyone who has to influence or persuade in his or her job is a salesperson.  For example, Pink found that in a survey of what people spend their time doing at work, 40 percent of time is spent doing non-sales selling – regardless of role or profession.  Pink’s book is chock full of great stuff as always, but here are some of my favorite gems:

Tip #1: Be An Ambivert

Pink cites research from Adam Grant at Wharton Business School, which found that the most successful salespeople fall right in the middle between extroversion and introversion.  Why?  Apparently extroverts can be too pushy, but introverts can be too cautious.  A happy medium leads to greater trust from the “buyer.”  Check out Pink’s site for a quiz to see where you fall on the scale.

Tip #2: Don’t be Stone-Faced

You are not playing poker, so smile!  Show positive emotion and believe in what you’re saying, and others are likely to respond in kind.  Note, though, that being too bubbly can backfire, so pay attention to cues from the other person (see Tip #3) that you may be headed over the top.

Tip #3: Birds of a Feather Flock Together

The more you are like the person you’re trying to convince, the better your odds.  If you don’t have the basics covered – like age, race, and general socioeconomic status – try to subtly emulate the other person’s behaviors and communication style.  Note that you shouldn’t be too obvious about this or you’ll look foolish.

Tip #4:  Lose Your Elevator Pitch

Pink thinks elevator pitches are too long in the online age.  He prefers the one-word pitch like “search” for Google and “hope” for Obama.  I don’t know that this will work for most people, though, and so I prefer Pink’s suggestion of the subject-line pitch.  According to him, the most effective subject lines in e-mail are ones that are specific, directly affect work, and have some degree of uncertainty.

Tip #5: Give Them Something To Do

This was one I learned in my first sales class, but I thought it was worth repeating.  At the end of the discussion, your “buyer” must be motivated to move.  Make it easy for them by providing lots of information on how to get started and don’t forget to follow up after the fact.  Persuading someone doesn’t do any good if no action comes of it.

Have you read Pink’s book?  What additional advice will you be employing this year?






Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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