The Secret of Selling Need Not Be A Secret
Last post featured a quote from a brilliant book that, while published posthumously just several years ago, was written back in the late 1960’s by Harry Browne.
The quote was, “Profit is a reward for satisfying the desire of someone else.” Though not the actual secret, it’s pretty powerful, in and of itself.
The book quoted from is The Secret of Selling Anything. The subtitle says a lot: A road map to success for the salesman…who is not aggressive, who is not a smooth “Talker” and who is not an extrovert. This is a book I am recommending to EVERYONE, whether directly in sales or not.
Part of the greatness of Harry Browne was his ability to see people and life through a very reality-based lens. He understood people. A very kind and gracious man, his sales philosophy and methodology — simple, fun and easy as he made it — was based on several immutable laws of human nature that he figured out early on:
- Everyone seeks happiness. People do what they believe will make them happy. Not every act brings happiness. Individuals make mistakes. But every act is aimed at bringing happiness.
- Happiness is relative. In other words, people experience happiness in different ways. People place different values on different things. What brings happiness to one person is meaningless to another.
- Resources are limited. Please don’t confuse this with lack thinking. Our universe is indeed abundant. However, there are limitations in certain regards. No matter who we are, we all have a limited amount of time, money and options. Thus, we must make choices. Your buyer will choose whether or not to buy from you based on whether your product or service is likely to bring him or her happiness (according to their personal values) as measured against their resources.
When accepting the above, we can now look at our prospect in an entirely new and productive light. We know that the sale is not about us…it’s about them. It’s about satisfying their needs, wants or desires.
In this masterpiece, not only does Harry bust numerous traditional sales myths, he provides perhaps the best pure advice on how to sell that I’ve ever read.
So, what is the big Secret of success in selling? (Italicized because, as Harry wrote, there’s no reason it should even be a secret):
“Find out what people want and help them get it!”
Harry believed there was no need to try and motivate a buyer because every buyer is already motivated. As the seller, our job is simply to find out what they are already motivated by and then align that with the benefits our product or service provides. Of course, he was quick to point out that if there isn’t a match and you cannot satisfy that desire, you should make that clear, as well.
Harry explained that in every free-market exchange there are always two profits: the seller profits and the buyer profits. Each exchanges one thing for something they consider to be of greater value than that which they are exchanging. For example, the widget seller wants the $100 more than she wants the widget. The widget buyer wants the widget more than he wants the $100. The same principles holds true regardless of the product/service and amount of money involved. Each person exchanges a current situation for a situation that will bring them more happiness, based on how they value happiness, and based on their limited resources.
With that in mind, Harry’s five steps for the sales interview makes perfect sense and can be easily applied.
- Discover the buyer’s motivation. Remember, they’re already motivated. By asking the right questions, you’ll discover what that motivation is.
- Summarize the motivation. Be sure the two of you agree that your summarization is correct.
- Present Your Product. Show him or her how their motivation can be satisfied through your product or service.
- Answer Questions. Answering questions or objections becomes very easy assuming you covered steps one and two correctly.
- Close the Sale. Using Harry’s system, this is simply a natural conclusion to the discussion rather than a source of discomfort for either of you. After all, you have demonstrated how you can help him acquire exactly what he or she has told you they want.
I’ve often said that, at it’s very essence, selling was about finding out what people wanted, and simply helping them to get it. When you see selling in that light, it’s so much easier and more fulfilling.
Very rarely do I suggest a book this strongly, especially (irony alert) without knowing it’s what someone wants. ;-). I’ll just suggest that if you are in sales, and would like to make selling more fun, more meaningful, provide more value to a lot more people, and earn a lot more money while you do it, I can’t imagine anything that would be of greater assistance.