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Archive for the “Selling” Category

People want to fall in love. A good salesman should let them.

To explain what I mean by this, let me step backwards for a moment. The root of quality selling must always be in having something valid, something true, something genuinely helpful to sell. If you don’t have this, don’t even begin to try to sell. If you try to sell that in which you have no passionate belief or something that is false you are dead. You are a servant of the devil. You are an apostle of the unsavory. You are Bernie Madoff. You are a fraud and incipient thief, as well as a killer of your own soul.

Perhaps this is obvious, but, in truth, good selling begins with a moral choice to purvey a real value and it is essential to know this in advance.

But assuming the real value of your selling proposition, salesmanship is really nothing more than helping people be selfish, helping people do the right thing for themselves.

The salesman’s job is to guide people to “fall in love” with that which can raise them up. The salesman’s job is to help a business client succumb to that which, in varying degrees, offers ROI salvation for himself and his firm.

It cannot be denied that most of us associate falling in love with erotic desire. Indeed, like a new lover, a salesman’s job is to make the truth sexy. A passionately told truth is and should be a heart-fluttering aphrodisiac.

Dr. M. Scott Peck, in his profoundly insightful book The Road Less Traveled (1978-Simon & Schuster-p. 90) talks extensively about the nature of love. He states, “…falling in love is a trick that our genes pull on our otherwise perceptive mind to hoodwink or trap us into marriage.” But, for Peck, falling in love is also a tool for initially breaking down barriers separating us all from a deeper love, a deeper truth and an agapic potentiality.

A good salesman, like a good lover, combines a conscious employment of qualities like looks, charm, wardrobe, and, most importantly, a well-honed charisma of expressed faith in a product. Charisma emanates from a fervid inner truth and an embedded belief. A focused salesman leaves a palpable frisson in his wake and should awake an ardent longing in a potential client to do what is in the client’s best interest anyway. Effective salesmen are evangelists of “the good.”

The English philosopher Bertrand Russell, in The Impact of Science on Society, states simply, “If you feel love, you have a motive for existence, a reason for action.” Thank you, Bertrand.

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Don DraperI recently was forwarded a posting from by Robin Greene, who blogs frequently and well on sales initiation (with her partner, Sheryl Tuttle) at New Business Pipeline. Robin’s forwarded blog was a love bouquet to Don Draper of Mad Men as the best salesman of all time on television. However, the blog concluded with a list of, to quote, “…the best salesmen, con artists, sweet-talkers, swindlers, and bullshitters in movies.” Wow.

The juxtaposition and equivalency of salesmen, con artists, sweet- talkers, swindlers, and bullshitters is breathtaking. And yet it fully reflects the popular view of salesmen as somewhat lower than whale shit. The list includes such luminaries as Gordon Gecko (portrayed by Michael Douglas in Wall Street), Blake (portrayed by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross), Freddy Benson & Lawrence Jamieson (portrayed by Steve Martin and Michael Caine, respectively, in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Roy Waller (portrayed by Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men), etc. You get the idea. A veritable concatenation of the villainous and the predatory.

Certainly when I began my late-in-life adventure as a salesman and entrepreneur, my idealistic and somewhat bohemian family didn’t quite know what to say. They probably thought I had become apostate to all that was fine and good. A Faustian sellout to filthy lucre. A crazed lemming descending into the rat hole of venality.

But what makes a good salesman in reality is the opposite of the amoral knaves of popular myth. You simply don’t win in the long term by fooling people. You win through sincere care and concern. That is a naive but very real truth.

Unlike the popular cliches about salesmen, long-term sales success comes from focusing on service and candor in all aspects of the sales process. A liar and a villain is eventually known by his works. Gordon Gecko aside, you don’t successfully sell with deception and legerdemain.

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Still thinking about simplicity this week. One thing I have found is that if I try to sell everything, I sell nothing. It’s just hard as hell for me to stop talking sometimes.

In a sense, this is a case of “Physician, heal thyself“, as I am constantly pounding my clients to focus their sales message into a simple essence. When it comes to my own selling it is a learned discipline to know when to stop. When it’s your baby, every descriptive detail is a gem of rare price. But the fact is that loquaciousness is the enemy of illumination.

It’s really true that less is more, most of the time. I was reminded of that last Sunday in church, of all places. My minister told the following story in his sermon to illustrate a biblical point, but the story works fine as a lesson about simplicity.

Two ranchers from Texas are bragging to each other about the size of their respective cattle-raising operations. One of them says, “Well, I’ve got 15,000 head of cattle out there on the range all wearing my ‘Flying A’ brand.”

“Flying A!” the other one sniffs. “My brand is the Bar T, Circle L, Cross Creek, Flying Z, Bent Fork, Double Back, North Canyon brand.”

“Wow!” says the first rancher. “How many cattle are you running?”

“Well,” the second rancher confesses grudgingly, “Not as many as you have. Most of mine don’t survive the branding.”

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