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Pathways to the Sale

(Sales Musings, Anecdotes & Insights by Dominic Spano, Ph.D.)

The wise teacher leads you to the threshold of your own mind (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet)

Out the Door, See no More

How's that for a phrase with the capacity to dichotomize salespeople? Inevitably, it separates those that believe it and factor it into their business plan, from those who feel it fosters a selfish approach to a career in sales. I first heard those words from the young salesman I referred to in the article on Expired Listings. Albeit I was in my rookie season as a salesman on commission at the time, I knew instantly what he was implying. I also knew that I had not been selling with the intensity inherent to a mindset that takes the implication behind that phrase into account. Above all, I knew that my young colleague, although newer to real estate sales than me, was out–producing me virtually every month.

As I indicated in that article, I felt somewhat humbled by the realization that I was learning from that young fellow selling techniques that I was not hearing anyone else even speak about. Eventually, it occurred to me why this kid struck me as different. It was because, as a realtor, all my initial sales training had come from people in the real estate industry, whereas my young peer had come to real estate from a business in which all his selling took place within the confines of a store. To him, it had always been crucial that he sell his customer on that first visit because they rarely gave him a second opportunity. As a result, he had become very good at thinking on his feet—something I quickly gleaned from one of the exercises he put me through: namely, much like Cato Fong's impromptu attacks on Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther series, he would point to something at random and say "go ahead, sell that to me". The items were completely arbitrary, ranging from paperclips, to articles of clothing, to food items, and even garbage. At first I struggled with his concept of selling what, to me, were 'silly things'. But I quickly learned to apply the technique of linking features to their benefits in order to sell the positive aspects of whatever my colleague was pointing to–and I soon learned that there is value inherent to everything. This awakening proved invaluable to the development of my subsequent selling skills.

More importantly, that one exercise alone taught me several things about the young man and his way of thinking, which was very different from anyone else in the office. In time, however, as I watched him dominate the sales board, I connected with what was perhaps the most important lesson to come out of my 'apprenticeship' with him: namely, the realization that you get what you aim for. In sales, for example, if you aim to have your customer view you as a 'great guy', that is exactly what will transpire. On the other hand, if you happen to be a sales rep who aims to get your prospects to buy or sell through you, that, too, is what is going to materialize. In the ensuing years, and since my academic background is in the social sciences, my research convinced me that this dynamic is likely linked to the programming of our Central Nervous System, especially its Sympathetic Nervous System component. Because the 'fight or flight' reaction originates in the Sympathetic Nervous System, I believe this to be a very logical explanation for the consistently good sales production we see in some of our colleagues and for the consistently poor performance we see in others.

My young colleague's attitude and selling style told me that he had learned to sell under pressure; that is, he knew that people are going to obtain the product or service they desire–and his goal was to ensure they bought from him, not from a salesperson they would encounter after rejecting his Sales presentation. In other words, his psyche was programmed to make sales. Stop and think about that statement because we really are programmed to get what we aim for, as anyone who has successfully met a goal that seemed unattainable when it was set can attest to. To be sure, some of our peers at my sales office viewed his approach to selling as 'selfish'. I was not among them. I have always maintained that selling needs to be win-win. As far as I'm concerned, service without results is merely altruism, not selling. There is nothing wrong with a salesperson having the expectation that he/she is supposed to make sales. Indeed, the buying public assumes that of us anyway. If we are uncomfortable or feel intrusive whenever we ask for the business, then that is a sign that deeper psychological and emotional issues may be at work in our psyche. Hence, we may be fulfilling our 'personal' agenda (whether or not we realize it) as opposed to our 'professional' agenda (which is why our prospective clients hire us).

To re-iterate a point I have stated repeatedly in my previous columns, we sell who we are. Or, if you prefer, the person we are on the inside dictates what transpires on the outside. For a detailed analysis of this phenomenon, have a look at my ebook Pathways to Sold: The Science Behind the Sale, which can be previewed at Amazon.

Until next time ... Happy Selling!

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