Expert Advice on Achieving Success (in Any Field of Work)

Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Sales 2.0 [ 0 Comments ]

The website is the creation of Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale, LLC. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in improving their professional success, whether they’re in sales or not. Stutz’s bestselling book, Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results, has been featured in TIME magazine and translated into several languages. Her latest book, HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself On Interviews, is designed to help job seekers in every profession land the job they want. We spoke with Stutz about some of the common threads woven through the fabric of success in every industry.

Q. You have shown how building relationships leads to successful sales, and you experienced this personally when you began selling office equipment in the 90s. But that doesn’t mean being a pushover or giving up easily. Can you tell us a bit about “assertiveness vs. aggressiveness” and how building relationships is better than the overly-aggressive sales push?

A.  Equality is the keyword for my endeavors.  This applies to:

a) Standing up for what is fair

Intermediary steps of the sales cycle include “qualifying and matching” to find the better matched prospective clients.  Equality will serve to build relationships well and encourage a returning and referring clientele.

On rare occasion, a prospective client will make unreasonable demands or treat the salesperson with complete disrespect.  Remaining calm and collected to try to get to the bottom of the discontent will most often relax the intended client.  However, on those occasions where rudeness prevails, it is best to withdraw your offer of help.   Respect should be present on both sides of the table.

b) Treat everyone you encounter as equals

Speaking of respect, many professional salespeople completely ignore the person opening the door, the secretary behind the desk and the person walking them down the hall to meet with the CEO.  What they do not realize is that everyone is the CEO of their particular job.  They are there to serve visitors as well as the company, and most likely, will report back to the executives as to how they were treated.  Elevating the friendly mood works to everyone’s favor.

Greet everyone you encounter going in and going out.  Should the receptionist be alone, ask how he/she likes working there.  The response will give great insight!  Should you be accompanied down the hall, ask the person the same question, and elevate their importance by asking if they will join you in the meeting.  Thank the person meeting with you for their time upfront and at the end of the conversation.  Thank everyone you met on your way out.

Why do all of this?  The behavior is a subliminal marketing message that you are a team player and that you will fit in with the company culture as you provide services.  You will be placed high up on the possible vendor list.

c) Listening at least as much as you speak.

The concept of “salesperson” conjures up a poor remembrance of “the time when…”   This is due to the salesperson being solely focused on his or her own goal of making the sale.  Given this mental state, the salesperson tends to do 90% of the talking, never thinking to ask why they were asked in for a meeting.

An improved method for selling is to get to know the other person professionally and personally upfront.  Becoming familiar with the other person and gaining some understanding first is an excellent way of paying respect.  Giving respect most often begets respect.

Before getting into the business portion, see if there is something about the office worth mentioning, such as the view.  If not, scout out pictures of family or pets, or signs of hobbies.  You might even ask how long they have been in their position.  Why?  People love to talk about themselves.  You warm up the conversation.

Begin the business portion of your meeting with asking an open-ended question such as, “You must be so busy, what motivated you to meet with me today?”

Let the other person speak first to gain their perspective of why they asked you in and to learn about their difficulties, needs and desires.  Take an active interest in what they tell you; ask further questions until you fully understand what they are saying.  Ask for clarification if anything is unclear. Once you have the understanding, you are better able to relate what you have to sell to what was just shared in conversation.

Why take the time to build relationships in this manner?  You will be far more likely to receive the sale. Your highly-targeted response will put you at the top of the vendor list.  In order to make a sale, people need to know you, like you and trust you.  Using this method, you will have accomplished all of this.

Q. One of the hardest things to do in non-work life is to say, “I am sorry. I messed up. Can you forgive me?” It’s also hard to do in business relationships, but in a recent blog post you talked about how the genuine “mea culpa” can get business relationships back on track. What are some tips for owning up when we’ve made mistakes so we can get back on track and move forward?

A. Most people do have a terrible time trying to say, “I’m sorry.”  But done correctly, it will positively get business back on track.

1.  Apologize for the error

Whether a simple misunderstanding, misinterpretation or larger error, a swift and simple apology without excuses works the best.  A reasonable person will swiftly forgive you. You are then able to calmly find a solution satisfying to all.

2.  Take ownership of the error

When business is at stake, accept the error as yours to move forward.  Your prospects have equal difficulty owning up to an error and will appreciate the ease of doing business with you.  The favor is returned by additional business, referrals and testimonials.

3.  Apologize for the error once again

An apology is appropriate at the beginning and at the end of the conversation without ever having to mention it again.  At the end, thank the other party for their understanding, trust and willingness to move forward.  As Shakespeare wrote, “All is well that ends well.”

Using these sales techniques will lead you to the Smooth Sale!

Q. There’s an old saying, “civility costs nothing,” yet some workplaces aren’t very civil. What are some everyday, overlooked things we can do in the workplace — like saying “thank you” — that can help improve a difficult work situation or a plain old bad day at the office?

A. Avoid gossip, intrigue or figuratively stabbing others in the back.  I was once in such an office. Being readily available to provide help will make you a team player, and a willingness to listen to complaints of your peers will help; but, if you do listen, avoid taking sides.  Smile as much as possible to be perceived as friendly and remain very focused on your work.

Q. So many people were hit hard by the economic downturn in recent years, often through no fault of their own. Now that we’re starting to see more encouraging business and hiring statistics, how can people with gaps on their resumes be honest while convincing hiring companies they are the right candidate for the job?

A. Downturns happen periodically and there are lessons to be learned.  One of the more important ones is to spend the free time wisely.  Study new trends and how they affect the position desired.  Help communities that need your knowledge to keep in practice and have that as a talking point on interviews.  Take affordable classes and do online research in your industry.

In preparation for the interview, thoroughly research the company and its business news, as well as that of their competitors and the industry in its entirety.  Apply what you research to the questions asked of you and to your talent.

Become a short story-teller in the 1-2 minute timeframe.  Don’t memorize, but think of past experiences where you had to overcome a huge obstacle, but you met the challenge and found success.  Practice your story.  Tell it in a manner that creates excitement by the end.  Critically analyze your resume for other possible objections.  Repeat the exercise.

The rule for objections is to first agree with them.  Then tell the short story from your perspective, and finish with a good conclusion.  Immediately afterward, ask, “Do I appear to be the type of candidate your are seeking?”  This is called the “buy-in question.” Receipt of 3-5 “Yes!” answers and you are likely to hear HIRED!


Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale, LLC, (800) 704-1499, was honored by Open View Labs with inclusion in their international list of “Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012.”  Elinor authored the International Best-Selling book, “Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results”, Sourcebooks and the best selling career book, “HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself On Interviews”, Career Press. She provides team sales training, private coaching and highly acclaimed inspirational keynotes for conferences and is available for consultation.

Photo Credit: thetaxhaven

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