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Selling: an art of a skill?

By Margo Chevers
Posted Friday, February 4, 2005

Selling is as much an art as it is a skill. The basics of the selling process can be learned by anyone, but the practice of selling is something that the super star sales people have brought to an art level.

What gets them to that level?

1. Superstars develop their own style. They know who they are and are comfortable with it. They watch the masters, but don’t copy the masters. They know whether their humor delights people or turns them off. They know how aggressive they can be and when to back off. They are great readers of people and people’s reactions.

In the business of speaking I think of Tom Peters who is one of the biggest management gurus of our time. He commands tremendous fees for speaking and is booked constantly. But when I watch him I am fascinated by the rules he breaks when speaking. He paces like a lion, he shouts to the point of straining his voice, he uses notes – all things that we are taught not to do. But it works for

him. In contrast you have Maya Angelou who stands in one place and delivers in melodious tones and hold her audience riveted just as Tom Peters does. Different styles – both work.

In the field of acting you have Jim Carey who practically turns himself inside out to get his point across and you have Sir Anthony Hopkins who can get his point across with the raising of his eyebrow. Different styles – both work.

I have seen waitresses interact with customers. Some are brash and funny, others are sweet and accommodating. Both types make good tips because they’ve developed their own style.

I have bought from sales people who have been persistent and I have bought from another who let me go at my own pace. I’ve been comfortable with both because they didn’t try to be someone they aren’t.

2. Superstars know their strengths. Superstars are constantly evaluating themselves. They work at developing their strengths. They know what works for them and will repeat it over and over. They get better with each sales call.

Although they capitalize on their strengths, they don’t ignore their weaknesses. They monitor their weaknesses and work on improving in those areas – but not in front of their clients. They find opportunities to practice on their friends, family and strangers. When they feel they have improved, they will then start incorporating those new behaviors into their sales presentation.

Because what had been a weakness is now under their control, they begin to use them as their strength. Thus, they constantly work to use their strengths to their and their customer’s benefit.

3. Superstars have confidence in their ability. Just like great athletes, they have practices their craft over and over again. They know what works for them. They are confident in their ability. When it comes time for them to close the prospect, they are able to deliver with a confidence that the prospect believes in.

4. Superstars don’t leave it to chance. They are practiced, well prepared people. They use winning phrases, they remember past successes. They write down and memorize anything that has worked in the past.

5. Superstars use a proven formula that is just right for them. All the techniques that are taught by sales trainers work. It is finding one that works for you and using it. Jumping from one to another does not give you the opportunity to hone your skills. Find one that works for you and use it all the time.

The basics of selling are Prospecting, rapport building, question asking, presenting, question answering, closing and follow up. There are variations on these basics, but it all comes down to these 6 skills.

6. Superstars don’t use gimmicks. Gimmicks work one time, but the prospect is apt to feel manipulated. If your customer feels manipulated they won’t give you referrals, they won’t want to buy from you again and you can be sure they’ll tell all their friends not to buy from you.

About the Author
Margo Chevers, author of the book STOP the BS (bad service), has been providing sales and customer service seminars and consulting to a diverse cross-section of industries for the past 15 years. For information about Margo Chevers’ speaking or training schedule call (800) 858-0797 or Margo@MargoChevers.com