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Sales Skill Is The Key Factor to Success, No Matter What You Do

Sales Skill Is The Key Factor to Success, No Matter What You Do

Ask any successful business owner about the one skill that contributed to their success. Without a doubt, they’d say “sales skills.”

You might be thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me – I’m not a salesperson or business owner!” But if you think about selling as explaining the logic and benefits of a decision, then everyone needs sales skills.

It’s the art of persuasion. The job of a salesperson is to get customers to buy products and services. To convince people that their product is the best, a salesperson needs to gain customers’ trust in a short period of time. This is true whether you’re peddling a product, a service, or your personal brand.

Sales skills can help you win friends and influence people, no matter what your job is.

Here are five rules of thumb as you develop your sales skills.

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1. Build relationships first.

Before making any requests, build trust with people. Try to find out what they’re interested in by observing, listening, and asking questions. Instead of using “I” and “me” in conversations, veer toward “you” and “we.” Show genuine interest in their personality, work, and hobbies.

As you build this relationship, nurture trust and others will naturally want to reciprocate.  No matter what goals you try to achieve, focus first on your relationships with people. People aren’t easily persuaded to believe in things; but they do believe in other people they grow to trust.

2. Tell compelling stories.

Here’s the thing: “hard-selling facts” are emotionless and they will not make people feel interested.

Spin your ideas creatively to catch people’s attention. Tell stories that touch people’s hearts, that make people feel happy, or surprised, or even sad or angry. Take Steve Jobs’s presentation on the iPod as an example:[1]

I’ve got a pocket right here. Now this pocket’s been the one that your iPods going in traditionally. The iPod and the iPod mini fit great in there. You ever wondered what this pocket’s for? I’ve always wondered that. Well now we know because this is the new iPod nano.

    This is a great example of a spin that induces surprise, and it keeps you hooked line by line.

    A restaurant with a run-down interior can turn people off even if the food is out of this world. Even if an idea is undeniably great, it really has to be packaged in an equally captivating way. Otherwise, it will just be another great idea forgotten.

    3. Take brutal rejections calmly.

    Even the best salesperson has experienced many rejections from customers. Rejection does not equal failure. Rejections are opportunities to learn. Maybe the approach or the timing wasn’t quite right. If you can recognize this, you can see your own performance more clearly. And then you can identify what to do better next time.

    Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and now the artistic director for Condé Nastworked was a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, early in her career. But after she did a lot of edgy shoots, Tony Mazalla fired her. She then became fashion editor at Viva and had a tremendously successful career afterward.

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    Rejections are common: ideas, relationships, you name it. If you can accept that rejects are opportunities to learn and grow, you are on the path to success.

    4. Anticipate questions, and have answers ready.

    Nobody wants to work with someone who’s unreliable. A truly experienced salesperson should make you feel like they know everything about their product, and that they understand clearly what you need.

    Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. What kinds of things are they interested in? What might they be concerned about?

    Having answers ready to go makes people feel that you’re capable and trustworthy. And as you build relationships with others, demonstrating how reliable you are inspires real and lasting trust.

    5. Be proactive in seeking opportunities.

    A good salesperson never waits for opportunities to come by. Because salespeople usually have a challenging target to achieve, they actively look for customers. They use all of their connections and resources to help reach their target. And they seize every possible opportunity to introduce their ideas to others.

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    Joe Girard, known as the “best salesman ever,” is a car salesman. He actively looked for opportunities to sell cars in big events, looking for potential customers and getting more and more referrals. If you do something great for one customer, you’re likely to reach about 250 of their friends, who are all potential customers.[2]

    Waiting passively makes people miss out on a lot of potential opportunities. Stay alert, so you notice when and where to introduce your ideas.

    Be a salesperson of your own life.

    No matter what your job is, it’s important to work hard to cultivate your own ability to influence others. The more you can inspire trust and emotions, take rejection, prepare well, and seek out opportunities, the more professional success and personal satisfaction you’ll find.

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    Brian Lee

    Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

    Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

    “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

    In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

    New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

    There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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    So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

    What is the productivity paradox?

    There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

    In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

    He wrote in his conclusion:

    “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

    Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

    How do we measure productivity anyway?

    And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

    In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

    But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

    In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

    But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

    Possible causes of the productivity paradox

    Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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    • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
    • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
    • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
    • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

    There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

    According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

    Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

    The paradox and the recession

    The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

    “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

    This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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    According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

    Looking forward

    A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

    “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

    Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

    “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

    On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

    Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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