Movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and Boiler Room highlight everything that’s wrong with the sales profession. They’re the worst sales movies. Those salespeople tried to manipulate and convince people with tactics that trap them. Yes, 20% of the profession are charlatans just trying to make a buck. But 80% are just trying to make a connection.
There’s a huge difference between influence and manipulation
John states “I don’t sell you anything. I either help you achieve your goals or solve your problems, that’s it. If your goals aren’t big enough and your problems aren’t big enough, then why are we having this conversation?”
That doesn’t mean that he gives when someone says no—but he doesn’t manipulate them. There’s a huge difference between influence and manipulation. He’s trying to open your eyes and remove a barrier of distrust.
You have to believe in what you do
You need to have a belief in what you do. When you believe it helps people, sales is the transfer of enthusiasm. If you believe in what you’re selling and that it will be a gamechanger, you need to tell them about it.
When John got fired from Staples, it was a huge wake-up call. He didn’t fit in the corporate structure. When he was looking for a new job, he was panicking. He had been an IT sales guy for 7 years. So his wife asked why he was always the top rep. At Dewalt, it was because he believed they were the best power tools. With Xerox, it was because he truly believed they were the best copiers. It clicked: He had to believe in what he sold.
Ask the most introverted engineer the last thing they built or the latest problem that they solved. You can watch them light up like a Christmas tree. They just transferred that enthusiasm. Sales is a mindset.
If you start from the right place and help solve a problem, everything that comes from that is of pure intent. If you don’t believe that what you’re selling is helping to solve a problem, you need to sell something else.
Don’t sell what you don’t believe in
John emphasizes “If you are continuously selling something you don’t believe in or you believe is not that good, you are the reason that people look at this profession the wrong way.”
It’s hard to say, it’s even harder to accept. You can convince yourself that you’re doing this to get a paycheck and take care of your family, but you’re just reinforcing the stereotype of salespeople if you’re selling something you don’t believe in.
If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, talk to your customers. If they’re getting value out of what you do, ask them how you impact their business. Talk to the founders about why they started the company. If you don’t see the value after doing this, find some other company to represent.
If reps are struggling, ask their customer success what the churn rate is. If it’s high, and you don’t have repeat customers, then there’s something wrong. Go on Glassdoor and G2 Crowd and read reviews. G2—a B2B review website—is the top 200th most trafficked website on the internet worldwide. You need to understand how the market is reacting to whatever you’re doing.
John’s challenge to you: Think about why you do what you do. Do you sell something you believe in? How do you understand your true values? Put together a game plan and try and get better every day.
To learn more about John’s sales philosophy—and learn about the amazing children’s book he wrote to teach kids about sales—check out episode #187 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast!