I'm a big believer in the focusing on basics. Never mind the elaborate "selling systems" or prefab scripts that are out there. The single most important thing you can do to improve your sales performance in any kind of organization is this: be nice to people.
I don't just mean that you need to be nice in a small way (you know…to always remember your manners just like Mom taught you). What I mean is that it's important to be nice in a big way—in a way that can make a difference in the lives of others.
There are millions of little things that each of us can do every day to be nice to others. From remembering birthdays to sending thank-you cards, from doing little extras for others to sending chocolates or flowers to someone you're thinking of—when you make a point of being nice, you play a role in the happiness of others. And just as important, you help shape how others see you.
Think of how you felt the last time you received an unexpected card from a friend or someone you work with. It's a good feeling, right? And it means a lot when you know that someone has taken the time to think about you. It says that someone cares about you and wants you to be happy.
The way you do the things you do
Of course when it's just a kind gesture or two, being nice doesn't take much effort at all. Making a habit of it means that a bit more thinking has to go into what you're doing. Getting good—really good—at being nice means you have to keep an eye on the things you do on a regular basis.
Here are three tips to keep in mind…
First, be consistent. If you want to be the person who always remembers everyone's birthday, it's just not going to be enough to remember once and then never again. By being consistent, you demonstrate to people that what you're doing is more than being nice simply because you woke up one morning in a great mood. You're showing that this is something you do as a matter of practice…because you really care.
Second, be prompt. Don't wait a month before sending out thank you cards after hosting that great party. Do something while the memory and the good feelings are still fresh in everyone's minds. You're sending a powerful message to people about what matters to you in your life.
Third, be thoughtful. This is where your creativity and attention to detail can help you really stand out. Remember that there are no limits to how much you can care for others. Recently I was told a great story about a top salesperson who was asked what set him apart from everyone else in his business. "I genuinely love people and I like showing how much I appreciate them," he explained. "There are plenty who remember to send out a birthday card to a friend or client, but I'll bet I'm the only one who thinks to also send out a birthday card to that person's beloved dog!"
Just a little of the human touch
Being nice is all about getting in touch with the human element of what we do in life. And as obvious as it may seem, the importance of being nice is, like a lot of basics, something that a lot of people overlook or underestimate. And yet it's timeless advice! Go back and look at what people like Zig Ziglar were teaching forty years ago. He recognized, as I do, that there is immense potential in the power of goodwill and kindness. And that applies not just to our personal relationships, but to our business ones, too.
Remember that buying is a very personal, emotional decision. When buyers have a choice, they'll choose to do business with the person they like and trust the most. That's what's missing in the process approach to sales—and that's why adopters of that approach tend to wind up disappointed.
The process approach to sales tells people to act and behave the same way in front of every customer—start with step one, then you have to do step two, then you have to do step three. There's no room for, well, the niceties of life. Instead, it assumes that buyer behavior can be changed by force. And that's how buyers and sellers get out of sync.
On the other hand, making a habit of being nice has its own modest requirements—you need to invest some time listening to and thinking about others.
In return it pays dividends in all kinds of ways that all those sales approaches simply cannot touch! Not only does it help make you a better person and help shape the lives of others, being nice can also influence the bottom line of your organization.
Consider the first-hand experience of Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Korval, the authors of 'The power of nice: How to conquer the business world with kindness'. "In less than a decade, we built the Kaplan Thaler Group into a powerhouse in advertising with close to $1 billion in billings…Our success was won not with pitchforks and spears, but with flowers and chocolates…(and) smiles and compliments."
By investing a little in the power of being nice—listening compassionately to others and tending to their needs—you can make an amazing difference in your life and in the lives of others. Just as the Dalai Lama sagely prescribes: "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
Whether you're looking to improve your personal relationships or your record as a sales professional, concentrate on fine-tuning this important basic. In doing so, happiness and success will find you.
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Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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