Are there qualities or attributes that enable the high performing salespeople to be persuasive? I have only been able to identify one. When a prospect or client looks into a great salesperson’s eyes, they see their own greatness reflected. High performing salespeople see the best in people.
Dr. Wendell Johnson devoted 35 years of his professional life to serving people in Northern Canada. As he was about to board a plane and retire to Winnipeg, an aging Inuit woman approached him. In a halting voice, she expressed her appreciation by saying, “I like me best when I am with you.”
The First Principle in selling is: Focus upon the other person.
High performing salespeople are genuinely interested in the people whom they meet. Intuitively, they know that other people appreciate someone who expresses a genuine interest in them.
In his book, GIVE and TAKE: WHY HELPING OTHERS DRIVES OUR SUCCESS, Dr. Adam Grant, shares empirical research, stories and anecdotes that demonstrate the most productive salespeople are givers. They are genuinely interested in helping others. Since they also see the best in other people, they become enablers in drawing out the potential of others. When prospects and clients see their own greatness magnified in the eyes of the salesperson, they rise to their potential.
Let me give you an example. My friend and mentor, David Cowper, was a high performing insurance advisor & a great salesperson. David learned that a successful entrepreneur who sold his company at age 60 was buying it back at 65. The company had his name on the door & was being run into the ground by the conglomerate that acquired it. It was breaking the entrepreneur’s heart to observe the disintegration of the business he had worked so hard to build. He was in the process of arranging a leveraged buyout. David knew he would need life insurance.
He called the entrepreneur who told him he already had proposals from four leading insurance advisors. David said: “Then, why not a fifth. It will take me less than 15 minutes to show you how I can save or earn you money. I understand that you get to your office at 6:45. I will meet you at that time on any morning you choose. I will bring coffee & muffins. If I cannot demonstrate value in ten to fifteen minutes, I will gladly leave. Does that seem fair?”
The entrepreneur laughed and suggested they meet the following morning. When David met the entrepreneur, he asked: “How much life insurance are you contemplating? The entrepreneur responded: “$50,000,000.” “How did you arrive at that amount?” “That is the value of the business.” “Are you buying the business for today’s value or tomorrow’s?” “What do you mean?” “Are you buying it for today’s value or for the value you will create over the next few years?” “Obviously, for the value we will create.” “What do you think that value will be in three to five years?” “If it is not worth at least $100,000,000in five years, I will be very disappointed.”
David was the only one to propose $100,000,000 of life insurance and made the sale.
The Second Principle in selling is: Let the other person set the pace.
High performing salespeople earn the right to be trusted. Their prospects & clients feel as if they are setting the agenda. These top salespeople have internalized the old adage: “People hate to be sold, and love to buy.”
One of the most effective ways to let others set the pace is to ask questions and listen well. Another old adage is: “People are most comfortable with their conclusions, not ours.” David’s questions drew out the entrepreneur’s aspirations. To create a $100,000,000 business, he needed time. The life insurance guaranteed that if he did not have the time, his goal would still be achieved.
High performing salespeople not only bring out the potential in others, but also show them how to realize their goals. That is the singular quality that makes them so persuasive.