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Why old school sales is on its way out, and influence sales is in.
“Coffee is for closers!” If you’ve been in sales very long, you’ve probably heard this from someone. It represents the old school sales culture and may have even led to success for some, but the world has changed and the sales profession must evolve with it for continued success. First of all, just look at how coffee has changed, with our cold brewed, double mocha, half-fat lattes!. Second, today closing doesn’t happen with a high pressure conversation in a highly aggressive environment.
The old view of sales was built out of the idea of scarcity. Basically, it means there’s not enough to go around. In this view someone has to win, which means everyone else has to lose. In a sale, it means you are in competition against each other, fighting to make sure you aren’t the loser. Of course this brings stress, high pressure and negative thinking towards sales.
Like the pressure you feel when you are approached by that aggressive, commission hungry salesperson who insists this is your lucky day because he is gonna “hook you up.” Hollywood has long supported this damning image of the predatory and sly salesperson. Look at movies like Wolf of Wall Street, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Boiler Room to name a few. They all had that element of scarcity, distrust and manipulation. In fact old expressions from way back add to this idea that a great salesperson can sell literally anything to anyone.”He can sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves,” or “She can sell ice to an eskimo.”
This image and portrayal of a sales person has hurt the sales industry. Most of the sales leaders I talk to suffer from the same problem of high turnover. A key to this is the fact that many of the people in sales never really wanted to be salespeople. They never went to school for sales and ended up there because their original degree or career didn’t work out. They are often millennials and gen-y’ers, usually with a lot of debt, no experience and some very negative beliefs about sales. They don’t respond to the same aggressive, fear and intimidation tactics, or the sell at all costs strategies, that may have worked in the past, so they end up hopping from job to job seeking more fulfillment and to feel valued. This is not a plan for success for anyone, and this strategy has run its course in today’s sales environment.
Sales is one of the most valuable roles in any company and is also one everyone plays to some extent. Can you imagine if your best, smartest and most creative team members did not have the ability to influence others on why their ideas are valuable? Or your top operations people couldn’t make a compelling business case for a new system? Sales is identifying a person or company’s need and using influence to show them that you have a great solution. Every interaction has some level of influence in it. Every time you exchange information with another person you are influencing them to trust and believe you.
This is where we make a big shift from old school sales, rooted in the salesperson’s desire to get the deal, to the new school of influence sales, based in a desire to truly meet your customer’s needs. With the internet and interconnected economy we live in today, there are far more options to buy products/services than ever before. The days of having to face off with the used car salesman who ran the lot in your city are over. Not only are there dozens of used car lots, but I can buy used cars online now and pick them up from a literal car vending machine. Having so many options removes the leverage sales people used to have over a customer, and in turn customers’ needs have evolved from just delivering a product to meeting their specific emotional needs.
The new school of influence sales requires us to have emotional intelligence. Psychology Today defines Emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. First we must know our own value, so we can manage our own emotions. Then we are able to hear the real needs and emotions of others and transfer value with the right emotion and influence. We do this by aligning our beliefs behind the exceptional value we provide, which includes not only our company and the value of our products and/or services offered, but also the value we have as an individual who is truly seeking to serve others’ needs. Once you appreciate your own value, you are able to listen to others without judgment or scarcity. This is active listening, and when combined with emotional intelligence we are able to truly understand and respond to the needs of others.
Changing old patterns of beliefs is not always an easy process, as some of these have been with us for years. It takes vulnerability to address these beliefs and the leverage or desire to change them. Perhaps you are questioning the value or offer of your company and may have to make a difficult decision to walk away if there is not enough leverage to keep you there and support the changes needed. Maybe your struggle is with belief in yourself, and it’s time for you to really challenge yourself in a whole new way. Either way influence sales starts with you. This is why the best sales training companies are filling in these gaps by integrating emotional intelligence into daily habits of influence sales through web and app based conditioning programs. Wherever your growth opportunity lies, it’s time to fully step into the new school of influence sales, and you are your first customer.
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