Selling has a bad reputation.
Most us think about “used car salesmen” kinds of selling and there is plenty of that! At Robin’s Cafe, we used to get dozens of calls every single day from start-ups trying to pitch us on “We’re Yelp, but for Cafes” or the like. My baristas would have to answer, because that was the same line customers called to place orders.
But selling is also something that each of us does every single day – enrolling, persuading, inviting. Asking a friend to come to the gym with you, planning a lunch, asking someone out of a date, trying to persuade you kid to put on their shoes before going outside.
I have an unusual approach to sales. Actually, I think most long-term successful salespeople do.
The first step, in any call or conversation, is to establish clear boundaries:
–How long is the conversation going to last?
–What’s the purpose of the meeting?
–Even if it was previously scheduled, ensure that now is (still) a good time to talk
Then, I set a clear intention for this call. For me, frequently, that is to love the person I’m with. But if that’s too vague for you – it could be to be present, to help them, to support them. Whatever your goal *for the other person* is in this meeting.
The next step is some amount of guesswork. I take my best guess as to what is in this person’s best interest. I have, many times, sold something other than what I set out to talk about because I realized that what I was offering wasn’t in this person’s best interest. There are more than 7 billion people in the world. It is totally fine if this isn’t somebody who should buy what you’re selling, or if they don’t want to go to the movies with you tonight, or if your kid just won’t put on their shoes.
If what I’m selling really is in their best interest, then I invite powerfully towards that outcome – be it to the movies, putting on shoes, buying avocado toast or tickets to my Responsive Conference. A part of this is also sharing personal stories – the reason why I’m excited to spend time with them, the consequence if the child doesn’t put on their shoes, or who else will be at the event that I think they’ll enjoy meeting. This requires a clear invitation: “I would like for you to ______________.” And the question: “Will you come? Will you purchase a ticket? Will you come with me to the movies?”
Finally, end with celebration and excitement. I will frequently close with something about the person that I’m grateful for or admire about them. End on a good note, no matter the outcome.