Your #1 Sales Tool

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Think of the kind of people you like to do business with.  Chances are, they are friendly, likable, approachable people.  People who make you feel important.  People who are interested in what you want and are eager to help you get what you need first. 

Successful salespeople are likable.  They are the kind of people who are easy to talk to, are great listeners, and ask the right questions.  They make other people feel comfortable.  If you are interested in a career in sales, you need to be likeable or develop the traits and habits of likeable people.

The beginning of a successful interview is convincing the hiring manager that you are the right fit.  An article suggested six habits of likeable people.  Even if you have great credentials, the right education and experience, you can lose out to someone with a more pleasant personality.

Stand up straight, look the interviewer in the eyes, smile and give a firm, strong handshake.  This is interview 101.  But too much confident body language can put people off.  The article suggests taking a more deferential stance, a tilt of the head, a step forward to let the other person know you are making the move to get to know them instead of standing back and having them come to you. 

Another habit is using proper etiquette and social graces.  Instead of addressing a hiring manager by his first name, use “Mr. and his last name.”  In today’s business world it may sound strange, but even using the polite “sir” and “ma’am” can show your respect for the person and his position.  Please, thank you, and excuse me are all respectful phrases that can set you apart from your more casual competition.

Likeable people are authentic.  They have strengths and weaknesses.  They make mistakes and learn from them.  Share your successes and failures in the interview without apology or embarrassment.  There is nothing less genuine than someone who is uncomfortable or evasive when asked the standard interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Be specific, and end with a lesson learned and how the situation made you a better person or employee.  It’s not so much the error as the process used to handle the situation and turn it around to a positive experience.

There are hundreds of people with college degrees that meet job requirements.  Hundreds more who have the required number of years of experience, the certifications, licenses or other credentials that are part of job requirements.  These things can be learned or acquired by working on the job or taking training classes.  What can’t be acquired is personality, or the inherent tendency to be positive or flexible.  Personality, or in this case, likeability, has to be part of a person’s personality to be real.  A person may be able to “fake it” for an interview, but not for a career. 

If you want to be successful in sales, a career where building relationships is critical, take a very honest assessment of yourself to see if you’re the kind of person that people like and want to be associated with.  If you’re a loner, prefer to work independently, or are happier spending hours on your computer doing research or working on projects, sales may not be for you.  Your genuine, honest desire to be with people and get to know them and their needs is the #1 sales tool you’ll need to be someone people want to be around and do business with.


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