#36: Sales – Part 1

Over the past few weeks we have looked at why small business fail, potential problems with business partnerships, and networking. The next key component is sales.

When I run my workshops I do a little word association exercise; I say one word and ask the delegates to write down the first thing that comes into their head.

The one word is “Salesperson” – the responses I generally receive are predominately negative, including words such as:

  • Impolite
  • Shallow
  • Pushy
  • Smoothie
  • Aggressive
  • Shark
  • Bully
  • Suit
  • Sleazy
  • Scumbag

It is fair to say that most of the words volunteered are not words that you would feel happy being used about yourself!

So, ladies and gentlemen, we have a challenge; if we are going to eat then normally we have to sell and yet we associate selling with pushy, sleazy scumbags in suits! So how do we do sales without having to risk ourselves being perceived as one or more of the negative images conjured up? I have to try to demystify the sales process for you and make it slightly less scary.

My personal view is there are three attributes of a successful salesperson:

  1. The first attribute is the ability to be liked. If you consider your own experience, you are more likely to buy from somebody you like!
  1. The second attribute is the ability to listen. There is a famous saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion, and this is absolutely true. The good salesperson asks the right questions then shuts up, and if you have asked the right questions and remain silent the client will tell you all you need to know. Some of the best salespeople I have encountered are amongst the quietest people I know.
  1. The third one is to my mind the hardest one to handle, namely the ability to enter the client’s world, rather than try to drag the client into yours. That is where most people fall down.


When people get into the sales process and are in the thick of it, they get nervous and tense. When that happens, they revert to where they are comfortable, namely themselves and their business, and they stop talking about the client and his or her business.

What you are trying to do is solve their problem in their world. If you can master that, coupled with the other two attributes, then you have the main components of a good sales person. You still need a process to work with and some tools at your disposal, but in terms of a sound base, you will have it.

Next time we will continue to look at sales but concentrate on the features and benefits, both of which are very different. But we’ll get to that next time!

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