by John Ingrisano
[The following is an excerpt from John Ingrisano’s The Back to Basics Book of Selling: A Guide to a Successful Sales Career.]
The sales process is really fairly simple. It’s a lot like riding a bicycle — once you have it mastered, it becomes second nature. But for the person who has never gotten on a bike before, God’s creation of the universe wouldn’t appear to be much more difficult. Selling, like riding a bike, is essentially a matter of mastery.
But hold on, all you six-figure sales pros out there: Before you begin writing letters in protest, let’s clarify one point: No one ever said that selling is easy. And I’m not saying it, either. In fact, it takes a lot of hard work to be successful in sales. And once salesmanship is mastered, it can always be improved. Like any profession, selling requires continuous education, growth, and development.
The basics, however, are simple to learn … even though they may take a lifetime to master. And these basics are the foundation upon which everything else is built. When you have a firm grasp of the basics, doors of opportunity and success are flung open … wide open. But without the basics, you will go nowhere, no matter how hard you work.
Over the years a number of “Secrets to Success” and “Shortcuts to Success” in selling have been developed. There really are no secrets, no shortcuts. A working understanding of psychology, for instance, may help you fine tune your sales skills. Tracking your biorhythms may give you added confidence and help you be at your best. Learning how to read the prospect’s eye movement or body language can’t hurt. But these are add-ons, extras to help you refine the fundamental approaches to selling. It is crucial that you first learn to walk with these fundamentals. Then, and only then, can you run with the extras.
Why is a mastery of the basics so important? Because the basic principles of selling never really change. The fundamentals of effective salesmanship are still essentially the same as they were when the serpent sold Eve on the benefits of that apple. They are founded on the concepts of an understanding of human nature and a whole lot of common sense. The basic principles of selling have been tested, refined, and improved through years of use — not only by tens of thousands of successful salespeople, but also by politicians, writers, and business people who have shaped the history of the world.
Think of selling as effective, persuasive communication, because that is exactly what it is. The ancient Greeks developed oratory, known today as public speaking. The Romans raised it to an art form. The citizen who could persuade his audience, convincing them of the truth of an idea or the value of a particular course of action, was honored with laurels, riches, and prestige.
Such persuasive oration was recreated by William Shakespeare in his play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Marc Antony’s address at Caesar’s funeral begins, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones; so let it be with Caesar.” Marc Antony then goes on to convince the crowd that there was good in Caesar and that they should rise up against his murderers. Another example of effective oratory is the political tract, Common Sense. Written by the pro-American English essayist and revolutionary, Thomas Paine, Common Sense argues forcefully and persuasively for the freedom of the American colonies.
Every time a politician opens his mouth, he is selling something. Every time a writer uncaps her pen, she is selling something. Every time a 16-year-old boy asks a girl out for a date, he is selling something. And to present their ideas effectively, they use various tools of persuasion that have been developed and refined over the centuries. The words may be different, the ideas may be different — but the techniques they use do not change.
Writers, politicians, and orators sell ideas. You sell your product, whether it’s life insurance, automobiles, office machinery, toothpaste, a training program, accounting or therapeutic massage service. But no matter what you sell, the fundamentals of how you sell will be the same. The techniques have not changed for centuries. They will work for you just as they did for Socrates, Aristotle, William Shakespeare, Thomas Paine, and others.
The bottom line: Since the basic, time-tested techniques of selling work, since they do the job, there is no need for you to re-invent the wheel. You do not have to start from scratch, learning how to become a successful sales professional through trial and error. You can learn from the experiences of others. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And the basic techniques of successful sound selling “ain’t broke.” Every day they are used effectively by tens of thousands of individuals in tens of thousands of situations.
So, learn the basics, whether from one of my books or seminars, or another sales trainer. Then practice and refine your ideas and presentations. And watch the doors of success open … and open wide.
Work hard, make money, have fun, and keep on selling!