Like a lot of people, I subscribe to various sites that send useful information, uplifting quotes, etc. The following morsel by an anonymous author popped into my inbox the other morning, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”.
Wow! What a powerful reminder of the things that really matter in our interactions with others. This piece of sage advice should be metaphorically tattooed on the brain of everyone involved in sales.
Don’t forget that selling stuff is a tough gig. Rejection is the normal response to spiffy sales presentations and follow-up offers. You have to be tough to survive in a sales job.
You need other things too. Product and technical knowledge is important. Total command of the detail is expected by clients.
However, we need to be careful about what we focus on. Are we letting product details and features confuse us about what selling is really all about?
Some salespeople I have encountered remind me of an icy mammoth trapped in a time warp from the past, still trotting out the product brochure and seeing if I will go for one of their goodies.
“You don’t like that one, well then how about this one, or this one, or this one”, ad nauseam.
I want blue but they keep showing me 50 shades of pink. They are playing that pathetic, failed salesperson game: process of elimination.
I want to buy, but are they really showing me they are focused on understanding me? Are they demonstrating that they primarily care about my benefit? Are they communicating that their success is contingent on mine?
Or do they come across, not with stars in their eyes, but dollar signs?
I can imagine the salesperson sitting across the table, mentally salivating at the thought of the big fat commission this sales conversation is worth. I can sense they have already bought the Beemer before the ink is dry.
The aforementioned quote, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”, reminds me of a great Japanese word that should be embraced by everyone in sales—kokorogamae.
It can be simply translated as “preparedness”, but the Japanese nuance goes much deeper. Anyone studying a martial art or a traditional Japanese art will immediately be on my wavelength when they hear this term. I would prefer to translate it as “getting your heart in order”.
This means to really hark back to your most basic principles of true intention or “true north”—the purity of our intention.
What is the spark in your heart driving behaviour? Is it the money or is it serving of the client? Is it what you want or what the client wants? Is this going to be a long-term relationship or a fleeting transaction?
Salespeople need to start by searching their hearts for their true intention.
Does this sound a bit too “hug a tree” emotional for you? Why do I recommend searching your heart? Because clients can sense if your motivation isn’t centred on their best interests and therefore they won’t buy.
Of course, there are exceptions, such as the Hollywood image of the smooth-talking salesperson who could sell you anything and will certainly try to do so. He is like a skyrocket that initially blazes through the night and then explodes.
Such rockets are here for a good time, not a long time, and give the profession of sales a bad name.
The best Japanese salesperson I ever interviewed for a sales job was a criminal. The criminal part didn’t surface immediately, but came up later through some background checks (note to sales managers: do background checks).
He was absolutely brilliant in the first two interviews: polished, genius personified in role-play and wow, what a closer! I thought, “Yes!”, at last I have found my perfect Japanese salesperson.
Actually, he was a liar and a thief. He had zero true north orientation and his kokorogamae was plain wrong. What a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moment for me.
So let’s ignore the outliers, the riff raff of sales, and come back to the vast majority of salespeople—who are not evil, just inept.
Change your heart, focus on true north, purify your intentions and show you genuinely care about the buyer’s best interests before your own.
If you do that every single time you meet a client, you will have success in sales and build a powerful personal brand.