When you think of the word salesman (or saleswoman), what do you think about? Do you think high-pressure, “constantly on” and always pitching? Do you label yourself as someone who’s in sales? I’ve had this debate numerous times with friends, colleagues and family over the years. Being in 3 different professional verticals throughout my career (sales, recruiting, marketing), I’ve always found myself selling (hard) in each and every job, just in different ways. Daniel Pink, a famous author in management and behavioral science, says that 1/9 American workers are in traditional sales (aka it’s their job is to try to convince someone to buy something)…. But what’s even more interesting, the other 8/9 are also in sales and may not even know it. That being said, it’s a different kind of sales… While these people may not have sales in their job title, they are spending a major amount of time influencing others to buy into a project, agree on an approach, convince their boss to give them a raise, approve a design, etc…
No matter what you think, you’re in sales. You will sell today… tomorrow… this week… It’s a part of every job. It’s human. Realizing this can help your career in more ways than one. Here are 5 things you can do to adopt the sales mindset, no matter your profession:
Before any meeting, ask yourself: why should they care?
- A mentor of mine constantly asks me this before going into any stakeholder conversation. Answering this question is critical and you have to be brutally honest with yourself. You need to have a clear point-of-view as to how you’re going to help stakeholders move the needle on an initiative, improve their business or evolve their organization. This will allow you to be more authentic in your pitch, and also enable you to work through a more appropriate solution. A good best practice is to write down, in a sentence or two, why your stakeholders should care before any initial discussions.
Come to the table with a solution and plan of attack
- I’ve seen it more times than I can count… people come to their boss, client or stakeholder with a problem, but no solution and plan of attack to go along with it. Coming to the table without a solution is a lost cause, and in my opinion, not even worth a discussion. The solution may not always be the right one, but it will always serve as a starting point. This will result in a more productive discussion with the team and ignite other creative ideas (ideas that possibly went unmentioned in previous discussions). Tactically, jot down 1-3 solution ideas for any problem, and identify the first 3 steps you need to take in order to implement it.
Know the product inside-and-out
- (Product) knowledge is power… Knowing your product inside-and-out will do a few things… 1. Give you an advantage over every single competitor 2. Make you more confident in your pitch 3. Allow you to respond to objections properly and 4. Gives stakeholders more confidence in you as the expert. This will also allow your pitch to feel more organic and when it comes down to your stakeholder buying-in, they will have more confidence they’re making the right decision. Study your product or solution at least 60 minutes each day… whether that be performance, competitors, future enhancements or messaging.
Personalize your message
- No pitch or presentation should ever be cookie-cutter. Every stakeholder is unique and looking for a different answer. Personalizing every pitch is an element to success that many oversee. Take 20 minutes, prior to a meeting, to study their background and business priorities to understand how you can tailor the discussion. This research could be via LinkedIn or any other internal documents that may be available.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
- Practice makes perfect, right? This is true in any case, but even more so going into a stakeholder discussion or sales pitch. Being able to present without having to refer to your notes is an empowering feeling. It will make you feel more confident in what your saying and exude more expertise. Also, this avoids the classic “I’m going to wing it” situation… trust me, I’ve been there. That may work for a surface level discussion, but if people start to probe, you may find yourself backed into a corner. Generally, I like to take 20-30 minutes to prep my discussion points before a meeting.
We’re all in sales, whether we like it or not. Realizing this, having the mindset and learning a few skills can only benefit your career, enable you to build better relationships and develop more innovative solutions.
As Alec Baldwin says “A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing…”.
Let’s connect! Twitter & Instagram: @AlCavalieri