Ease the Stress: Tips for Those Who Hate to Sell

By Barry Maher

A couple of years ago, I did my De-Stress for Success session for an audience of CEOs at the American Bankers Association’s Seminar for Presidents in Florida. Not surprisingly at that point, the De-Stress session was becoming one of our most requested sessions. And of course bank CEOs were having a particularly stressful time of it, no matter how great a job they may have done running their organizations and avoiding the subprime mess.

After any De-Stress session, at the book signing, I get any number of stress related questions. And this one was no different. But one CEO immediately focused on a copy of my book, No Lie: Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool. He started paging through it, seemingly engrossed while I signed books and chatted with others about the particular stresses in their lives.

Then, after the crowd had dispersed, he lowered the book and said, “I’ve got the same stress about the financial crisis that all the others do. But beyond all that, the thing that stresses me out most may be that I’m a numbers guy in a people business. I know that in today’s world, we’ve all got to be able to sell, no matter where we are in the organization. But as the CEO, in many ways I need to be the bank’s salesperson in chief. What suggestions would you offer a non-salesperson for improving their sales skills?”

Since this is a question I’ve gotten at leadership sessions, at management sessions, at communications sessions and now even at a stress management session, here are my top five suggestions.

1. Customers are interested in businesses that are interested in them. The questions you ask can be more powerful than the assertions you make. Good question show concern, uncover hot buttons and involve the customer in the process. 2. Too frequently businesspeople forget that customers don’t care about how great your business is. They care about what your great business can do for them. Concentrate on the Whats-In-It-For-Them and the Whats-In-It-For-You will usually take care of itself.3. Never be afraid to sell. Rejection will not kill you. The most successful salespeople are always the salespeople who hear the most NOs. Start collecting your NOs as soon as possible.

4. When you push against people they push back. Great salespeople find ways of moving the customer in the direction they need without pushing against him or her. One of my favorite ways was probably best described by Mary Kay Ash, who said that the secret to her success was that she simply treated everyone as if they had an invisible sign around their necks that said, “Make me feel important.” The brilliant psychologist, William James, insisted that “the greatest need of the human soul is the need to feel important.” Yet as customers how important do most companies make us feel?

5. Enjoy. It’s not only the best stress management tool there is, it’s the best sales tool. Make it fun for yourself and you can make it fun for your customer. Make it fun for your customer and you’re halfway to where you need to go. If you can’t ever have fun doing what you’re doing, find something else to do.

None of that is part of De-Stress for Fun & Profit. None of it is part of any of our leadership sessions or our communication sessions or our management sessions. But maybe it should be.

-March, 2009, Las Vegas, Nevada; Palm Springs, California

When Motivational Speakers Are Less than Sufficient.

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