In Pulp Fiction, gangster Marcellus Wallace is preparing Bruce Willis’s character Butch to throw his fight. “Pride only hurts, it never helps,” says Wallace to Butch.
As it transpires, Butch doesn’t throw the fight, he wins. Seems pride (and cunning) wins after all.
Pride is not self-respect. Pride is not self-esteem or feeling proud of yourself. Pride is your ego’s attempt at protecting yourself from any perceived slight or potential for hurt or pain. Pride is your ego’s attempt at avoiding discomfort at all costs.
Pride in business can be a big liability – as big a liability as a crooked boxer throwing a fight.
To grow your skillset, earn more money, challenge your thinking, grow your client base and service offerings, you need to change by getting outside of your comfort zone. And pride detests discomfort and uncertainty.
Sales is one key area in which pride asserts itself to avoid the potential for disappointment. In this way, pride always hurts, it doesn’t help.
Sales and sleaze
Sales has a terrible reputation. If we want to earn more money, we need to reinvent sales and save it from its reputation for sleaze.
It’s time to reimagine what sales is and how you can do it in a way which feels natural, personal and enjoyable. Our goal is not to close all sales, at all costs. Our goal is simply to be more effective at sales while feeling good doing so.
Any time a lot of people are doing a bad job of something is a great opportunity for you to be different. You only need to be half decent at selling to be better than all the high-pressure, duplicitous sharks.
Change your attitude to selling
Selling appears so unpopular that ‘sell without selling’ is the new propaganda, to somehow make the sale while avoiding any hard work of doing so. Ha!
What does ‘sell without selling’ actually mean?
Perhaps it means we should be more generous with your content marketing and community building and less time pitching. Fair enough. But I hazard a guess that you’re already doing that, right? You’re already spending time and effort on business blogging, social media, sending thoughtful, helpful emails and perhaps even doing live video.
So isn’t that enough?
Marketing is not enough
I’ve meant countless business owners who are fabulous at marketing and community-building. Naturally social and inclusive, they tend to be great at attracting people and creating a sense of familiarity.
But oftentimes these people are making little to no money. Just witness the professional bloggers with giant blogs who make little to no income.
Marketing isn’t enough, especially if you’re awesome at content marketing. People won’t take the next step with your business if there is no next step. They won’t hand you money if you make it difficult for people to buy. They won’t buy if you don’t ask.
We all sell
As Dan Pink’s book says, To Sell is Human. Selling is merely persuading people towards our way of thinking. We sell our children on the importance of brushing their teeth and eating their broccoli. We sell our spouses on the importance of planning dinners or taking out the garbage.
Regardless of what you do for a living, or whether or not you’re in paid employment, your ability to move people, and have them exchange their time, attention, energy, money or other resources, for the value you give them, is essential to having influence.
Exchange of value
Too often, we feel uneasy or even opposed to sales because we have money baggage. We feel like someone misses out by handing over money. But giving money in exchange for value should be joyful.
Our clients want a transformation, from their current reality to something different. They’re on one side of the bridge and they want to get to the other. You sell the bridge.
Without the sale, you cannot help them. Your content marketing – your blogs, emails, videos – enables them to help themselves, if they’re sufficiently motivated. But if they want you to hold their hand and make the journey as quick and smooth as possible, they need to buy, which means you need to sell.
People who are best at sales are good at listening. Most of the sales conversation should be about listening to prospects, asking thoughtful questions, and guiding them towards making a decision.
Without sales, we have a party of people flirting and mingling. Once a sales conversation starts, it’s like leaving the dance floor for a dark corner, to get to know each other better. The conversation that follows goes to the heart of the issue that your business seeks to solve.
While I don’t suggest that you actually try to engage strangers on a dance floor and take them for a romantic pitch in the corner, the same potential for awkwardness applies.
Getting comfortable with no
Far too many people are scared of no – scared of hearing it, scared of saying it. And so, we sit forever on the fence, swinging our legs in the breeze and make believe that yes is a possibility, while hiding from no.
Learning to get comfortable with using no and hearing no is imperative to our self-development. If you’re trying to avoid the weird, awkward energy that sometimes comes following a ‘no’, pause. Don’t rush to fill the silence with apologetic small talk. Sit in it. Feel momentarily uncomfortable while also recognising that It’s no big deal.
One of the essential keys to effective sales are your skills as an effective communicator: to ask smart questions, listen deeply, respond empathetically, be comfortable in awkward silences, guide people gently and skillfully towards making decisions, supplying just enough information as well as not too much, using no and hearing no, without resentment, loss of enthusiasm, confidence or belief in the value of what you’re selling.
These are life skills, not just business skills. Learning how to keep your attitude buoyant in the face of disappointment is otherwise known as resilience. And more of that is good for everyone.