When it comes to selling your ideas there is no room for the heart! At least that’s what the classical definition of salesmanship would have you believe. Like dictatorial leadership it demands one to be aggressive, opportunistic, driven by a ‘bait and hook’ mindset. That is salesmanship from another era. Something to be scorned. Just like that suit with the briefcase, who would come knocking through your door, was bad news. He will come down hard, nagging you with his pitch till you succumb to his persistence and buy that needless accessory or what not. The salesman of today has evolved. Why? The key to the salesman of yesterday was information. He knew something you didn’t. Information was asymmetric. The internet has changed that. Information is no longer a source of power. Information is abundant. When you walked in to a used car sales showroom before the internet there was no way for you to tell a lemon from a peach. You wouldn’t know what would be the right price and the kind of hit you would be taking if you went for it. But not so much anymore. You can now “google” it from your mobile device on the spot if not beforehand. Read reviews on sites like Edmunds or Parkers depending on where you are. They will give you the low down on what you are getting into and what would be the right price for that peach you are getting your hands on.
Empathy and perspective
So what is a salesman to do when information is symmetrical? The power of knowing more is no longer there. Now his source of power comes from somewhere else. His power comes from empathy. From being able to see things from the perspective of his buyer. The more he can attune to the needs and wants of his buyer the better the opportunity he would have to make the sale. Now he is no longer thinking about that one off sale. He is looking to build a relationship, to gain trust. Doing this may not translate into a sale straight away but it would surely lead to one when the time is right. This ability to reverse the relationship between power and perspective is the crucial shift. The more one can attune to the perspective of others, the greater the power one will have to influence them. The important point to note here is the difference between empathy and perspective taking. Empathy is being able to see and feel things from another person’s point of view. Perspective taking is thinking about the other’s point of view. It’s the combination of both the head and the heart that makes all the difference.
Perseverance in the face of failure
The other personal battle one has to contend with, is failure. It is probably this fear of failure that drives one to revert to aggressive tactics to make sure one meets their goal one way or the other. Maybe this has to do with the compensation terms of the “classical” salesman. Maybe his income is more dependent on commissions and therefore he is forced to do that. Regardless of the person doing the selling. The ability to persist in the face of adversity and failure is crucial to whatever you are pitching. Either it’s a proposal to that special someone in your life or that life changing business deal that would open up a whole new world of opportunity there would always be a risk of failure. Although you wouldn’t want to be rejected by your dream girl. The key skill here is the ability to float through and keep walking! How? One way to do so is through the power of positive self-talk. Yes we all know that positive action words that you say to yourself to pump up before a major presentation can help but not just positive action words. The key here is to focus on interrogative self-talk. Ask questions that would open up your mind to action and the steps needed to win. For example, What can I do to win this pitch? Can I convince the other party to accept this deal? This approach works for two reasons. One, asking questions invokes you to look for answers. In those answers lie the strategies you need to pursue to achieve your goal. The second reason is that by answering these questions you are able to uncover your own motivations. Do you really care enough for what you are pursuing? By doing so, you can discover if your motivations are extrinsic or truly intrinsic. If they are deep driven then you can further strengthen your approach to the pitch. As a result not only have you crafted your strategy, but are now crystal clear of your actions and why they matter to you!