By Shari Levitin, author, speaker, and CEO of Shari Levitin Group
I’ve spent a lot of that time wondering why salespeople and business owners selling the same things and following the same processes can have such vastly different results. How can salespeople in the same auto dealership, real estate agents in the same marketplace, and sellers of similar software products, for example, produce such different outcomes?
It turns out that the most successful business owners have a lot of differences beyond the products they sell and the industries in which they work. Some are educated and some are streetwise; some are effusive, whereas others are shy. Some come from wealth, whereas others have struggled. But they are all the same in one important way.
Beyond knowing what to say and why to say it, the best salespeople know something else; something deeper, more penetrating, and more sustaining. Talk to successful small business owners and you’ll find that they have one thing in common. They not only lead with their hearts when connecting with others, they also connect deeply to themselves and their own goals and dreams. In other words, they know who they are and what they want out of life.
Top small business owners know how to balance heart and sales. They also understand that unless they really know themselves, they’ll never truly connect with their customers—or anyone else, for that matter. They know that what you do matters, but who you are matters more. These universal truths are all about achieving that balance, and more deeply connecting with your authentic self.
The 10 Universal Truths
- Success starts with the growth equation. Top salespeople share a willingness to take responsibility for their weaknesses, a deep curiosity about their customers and the world, and a desire for mastery. They commit to using what they’ve learned about their processes to continue improving. When you master this “growth equation” you will not only improve your sales record, you will transform your life.
- Emotions drive decision-making. The desire to be loved, to create closeness, look good, feel good, be remembered—even to belong—drives all of our decision-making. Our ability to uncover our customer’s emotional dominant motivators will dictate our success.
- Freedom lives in structure. Pilots run through preflight checklists. Free-throw shooters develop rituals to help them hit the same shot time and again. Bakers adhere to time-tested recipes. So why should it be different in sales? Highly successful salespeople have a process they follow and they follow that process every time. It may sound counterintuitive, but structure creates the freedom to act authentically and to create true connection.
- In sales, no never means no. Are you paralyzed by fear? Good. Top salespeople know that the more fear they feel, the more important it is to tackle the fear. What you’re afraid to do, you must do. The question you’re afraid to ask, you must ask. Failure is inevitable. Resilience is a life skill, one that will fill your soul and your pocket.
- Trust begins with empathy. Trust is born of empathy, integrity, reliability, and competency. You need all four traits, but without connecting on an empathetic level, you won’t have a chance to demonstrate the other three. Empathy is the first building block of trust. We can’t pretend to have empathy. Empathy is not about shifting the conversation to what you want to say or judging your customer. It’s about being fully engaged and present to someone else’s emotions.
- Integrity matters. Once we cultivate true empathy, we find it impossible to lie to or cheat our customers—or anyone, for that matter, including ourselves. The word “sales” comes from the old English word for “give.” When we sell, we must give. We can only maintain trust and enjoy enduring success when we cultivate honorable traits like reliability, competency, and integrity. Eventually, they become part of our character.
- Anything that can be told can be asked. When we ask the right questions, we uncover what matters most. “Discovery questions” uncover customers’ needs, direct their thinking down a path we choose, generate curiosity, and ultimately move them to action. These questions build rapport, gain commitment, and help your prospects sell themselves. Well-crafted questions help us make a point loudly, without having to raise our voice. Good questions create change. Great questions can change the world.
- Emotional commitment precedes economic commitment.
Most salespeople incorrectly assume that they can create a sense of urgency by threatening scarcity or appealing to greed. But if people don’t want what you’re selling, they won’t care if there are only two left or whether you’re throwing something else in.
- Removing resistance takes persistence. As soon as a prospect displays resistance, most salespeople drop the price, modify the terms, or otherwise change the offer. But the truth is: only when someone is in a receptive emotional state can you close.
- Looking for wrongs never makes you right. Every day, in every encounter, you have a choice. You can look for what’s right about that person or experience—what’s valuable or productive—or you can look for what’s wrong. When you’re interacting with your associates or your customers, don’t look for reasons why they won’t buy. Look instead for reasons why they will buy. Whatever you look for, be certain you’ll find it!
An internationally known sales strategist, writer, speaker and entrepreneur, Shari Levitin is CEO of Shari Levitin Group, a global training and consulting firm with clients in over 48 countries, and one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies. Companies including Hilton, Hyatt, Adobe, RCI, Jaguar, Wyndham Worldwide, financial service groups, and countless individuals have all benefited from Levitin’s pioneering Third Level Selling™ techniques. Her new book, Heart and Sell, is available on Amazon and at ShariLevitinGroup. Learn more at ShariLevitinGroup or connect through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.