Sellers beware- caveat venditor! Buyers are armed with all the information they need these days, so there is little if any power in the seller’s knowledge. Take buying a car for instance – it’s easy to research on the internet not just what the charateristics are of each model, but it’s cost of ownership, reliability and likely cost. The poor car salesman has a tough job when the buyer knows as much as him. So why do sales people still treat customers as adversaries, with a game to play and win? There’s an implication – I win, you lose. Will that bring the customer back, or will she broadcast his dissatisfaction to all her Facebook friends, Twitter followers and anyone else who she can influence (as my daughter just has)? 

Selling is inherent in pretty much everything we do, whether we have a sales job or just want to get agreement from our child to do her homework. And by the way, about 1 in 9 jobs in the West is in some sort of sales job. Should  we try and win or should we try and engage with people so we move them to adopt a point of view where we both gain? And if so, how?

 The classic salesperson is sociable, outgoing, talkative and a bit pushy – an extrovert in other words. Studies show they are not the best at sales. Neither are introverts, although not far from the extrovert scores. The best? Ambiverts – those who were in the middle of introverts and extroverts. They sold about twice as much as the others. They had the ability to change their position to mirror better the person they were talking to – in an honest way. They are chameleons – inoffensive and adaptable.

 Another small myth to be debunked – should you, as we have been told, power yourself with positive self talk about how good you are and your product is before your sales meeting? How does that help when you get a rejection? And let’s face it, we live in an ocean of rejection. Better perhaps to adopt the Bob the Builder approach – Can We Fix It? Yes, seriously – as that allows for a flexible approach that can adapt to changing conversations when you find out that your proposal won’t wash immediately.

 Talking about conversations, do you really listen and find out what the real need is? The famous design firm IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown, who was at the Global Drucker Forum in November, gets his people to ask Why? five times before anything else. Irritating? Possibly, but it gets to the heart of the need. 

 Then, assuming you can fufill that need, you have to convice. Here’s how Pixar do it – with 6 sentences, which explain everything – let’s use Finding Nemo as an example:

 Once upon a time there was a fish called Marlin, who was protective of his son, Nemo. Every day, Marlin would tell Nemo not to swim too far away. One day Nemo ignored his father. Because of that, he was captured by a diver and ends up as a pet in dentist’s fish tank. Because of that, Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo, with other sea creatures help. Until finally, they find one another, reunite and learn that love depends on trust.

 The bold elements contain the 6 sentence structure. Try and phrase your pitch so that it covers them, as you will nearly always be able to show how needs are met through your solution.

 We have more new pitch ideas available and some more ideas how you can move potential customers – you just need to ask.

 In the end, a successful sale is simply about improving both seller and buyer’s lives in some small way. No need to be pushy, no upselling, no negative conotations at all. Just helping people to realise what they truly want and need.  A real win-win.