The second most hated skill of all time is sales.
Fear of public speaking is the first. We don’t like to sell. It feels like psychological manipulation. It feels hard. Why?
People say no and even reject you when you try to sell to them.
Humans hate rejection and failure so most of us stay as far away from sales as possible. But sales is just persuasion.
And if you can’t persuade you’ll cut off most great opportunities in life. As someone who has worked in sales for my entire career, it’s taught me one underrated skill: how to understand the other side’s motivations.
Understanding the motivations of humans is a superpower that gets you anything you want, and more importantly, helps others get what they want.
My entry into the sales snake pit
I couldn’t sell to save my life.
I worked an operations job early in my career. When sales began to drop everyone in the business got forced to jump on the phone and sell.
I felt terrified.
I cold-called customers in an Excel spreadsheet I got given. My list had 350 prospects on it. Three days later I called all of them. Not one person was interested in the crappy environmental products I had to sell.
I felt proud though. I qualified the list of leads.
“Sorry mate, the leads suck and no one wants to buy. We need better leads.”
The sales manager shook his head. He loved the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. I later learned blaming the leads is a cardinal sin.
The newly hired sales manager realized none of us could sell, so he put an ad online and interviewed new people.
One guy took the bait. He sold used cars and could sell you anything. On the first call he got a sale to the same leads I said sucked. I kept ringing leads, though, hoping to get lucky. He listened to my calls and felt sorry for me.
“Let me do some calls with you. I’ll train ya.”
I expected a few Powerpoint slides and a couple of killer sales lines. What I got forever changed my life.
A mouth covered in duct tape
I made a few sales calls. He listened in.
He shook his head and couldn’t believe how crap I was. I just kept talking and never shut up. As soon as the customer’s patience ran out, I dropped the price like I dropped my pants after a night on the town.
“Stop giving away the farm mate!”
On the next call he told me to ask one question about the customer and shut up. So I did. But I kept talking. He got out a roll of duck tape, the same brand serial killers use to secure their victims.
I asked another question and then once the last word left my mouth, he wrapped my mouth in duct tape.
There was now no way I could talk.
The customer left a long pause after my question. I wanted to talk but couldn’t. I sat there patiently. The sales manager walked in, saw the madness, smiled, and walked out.
Then the elderly customer with a husky voice began talking. They didn’t stop. I sat there in silence for at least 20 minutes.
At a strategic moment in the call, my terrorist sales trainer took off the duct tape and told me to ask the customer if they wanted to go ahead.
I said the magic words and they said yes.
I learned that day that most of sales is actually shutting up and building a relationship, not selling features and benefits or talking about prices.
This sales indoctrination continued. The office became packed with salespeople. The sales manager placed a sign on the door that read “snake pit” with a scary photo of an Aussie python.
The missing sales skills everyone needs to turn the internet into a money printer
If I’d had sales skills at the start of my online journey, I would have got further fast. I wouldn’t have emailed selfish pitches or sent 1000s of DMs to famous people who never replied.
And I may have sold something and pocketed a little money.
These skills are a must for any human with a beating heart.
People buy from people they like
The most likable humans make all the sales.
The worst thing you can do is argue with a prospect or prove them wrong. Agree with them. See their point of view. Don’t be pushy because it pisses people off.
Just treat prospects as friends.
Talk to them like you’re at a barbecue giving them a behind the scenes look at something you’ve experienced or bought.
Teach them. Inspire them.
Never sell again
When we try and sell to people it becomes unnatural. I learned to just help people with their problems the best I could and the sales would take care of themselves.
Don’t try to persuade everyone
Some prospects suck ass.
They can’t be sold to or are so conflicted they will never make a decision. I’ve met many prospects over the years that need counseling, not whatever whizz-bang product I have to sell them.
Spend more time with prospects who want what you have. You only need to sell to a small number of people to be successful in life. So be choosy.
Believe in what you’re selling
People have to trust you to buy.
They can tell if you don’t believe in what you’re selling. So don’t sell dumb stuff or things you don’t believe in because it shows on your sexy face.
This is the sign they have a problem
If a prospect agrees to jump on a call or meet you face-to-face, they have a problem. Otherwise they wouldn’t waste their time.
The job of sales is to solve problems. First, making sure there’s a problem is a critical beginner step. But you’ve got to quickly figure out whether the problem creates pain or is just a nice-to-have cure.
If it’s the second then run in the other direction.
Pain motivates us to take action. No pain, not much to sell.
Direct the questions
Good salespeople aren’t dictators.
But they do subtly control the direction of the conversation. If you say the line “do you have any questions?” you’re instantly destroying any chance of persuading someone to take action with you.
Asking someone to give you questions is asking for new obstacles.
Instead, ask smart questions and lead them to their desired outcome. When you control the direction of the conversation with clever questions, it gives the prospect confidence you know what you’re doing.
Confidence = more sales
Get off the sales hamster wheel
Most people fail at sales because they sell to one person and repeat the process over and over. This is called transactional selling.
The secret of sales is to use leverage. This is done by selling to one person and then them loving what you do enough to naturally tell others about you. These referrals require hardly any effort because the trust and credibility get transferred from the original person you sold to.
My motto: Sell once. Get paid 10 times.
Go past one follow-up ya slack ass
Most people never follow up a pitch. Read that again.
I get pitched hundreds of times every month. One in a thousand people will actually follow up. Most just give up.
They’re afraid of rejection. Or they tell themselves some fake story like “He’s busy” or “I don’t want to hassle him” or “he’s probably found someone else.”
People don’t buy after one follow-up. You need to follow up many times. I always say: the larger the ask the more times you have to follow up.
I do at least ten follow-ups for every pitch. The trick is to make each follow-up slightly different. Try phone, SMS, DMs, video, email, etc. But be memorable. Show some emotion.
Illicit a response from people by showing your human side.
How to win: Follow up like your life depends on it.
The best way to handle discounts
Don’t do discounts. If someone really needs what you offer for 20% less (I doubt it) then say “we can strip away 20% of the deliverables from the offer.”
The easiest way to make a guaranteed sale
Most pitches don’t create value.
Let me say that again in 5th grader language. Most offers don’t save time or money, or help people make money.
These three ingredients make sales happen. If your pitch has all three then it’s likely to be a standout hit.
Stop presenting dumbass expenses
Most people pitch expenses. Or worse, their offer to help sounds like a tax on your life. Yuck.
I can ask you for $5000 to buy my copywriting service. Or I can create an offer that involves me writing you three pieces of writing that will make you at least $100,000 in new sales.
Spending $5000 to make $100,000 is a no-brainer.
No-brainer offers get automatic yeses. Logic takes over and fear gets removed.
Educators destroy competitors
Last week I got a pitch from an awesome VA (virtual assistant) company.
Theirs was radically different. Everyone else tried to sell me VAs. They taught me about the six levels of delegation.
Now when I talk about outsourcing a task I use their language.
I even shared their framework with loads of other people. Those who educate get remembered. Being remembered helps you stand out so there’s no other competitors in your lane.
The sales mindset to triple your results
When your product or service actually helps people, getting a person onboard is an act of kindness. Never forget that.
Bringing it all together
My friend Dan Koe said “ Those that are afraid of selling are just selling themselves the idea that selling is bad.”
So even if you refuse to sell you’re still selling.
Sales is a life skill we all need to survive. I wish I had the skill earlier in my journey so I didn’t need to work unnecessarily long hours and give away my 20s for nothing.
Don’t make the same mistakes. Use these tips to sell people on your ideas and change your life.