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6 Ways to become a Master Salesman

Go to any sales seminar and you will hear mantras like “he could sell ice to Eskimos”, “work towards a 100% success rate”, “you need to know your product intimately”, “you need to look or dress a certain way”, “you need to follow a formula or a script”, and “you need to use technology”. These mantras are bullshit – here are SIX cardinal rules of selling.

Rule 1: Opposites do not Attract

She drives a Prius, he rides a Harley. She enjoys garden and animal husbandry. He enjoys riding his Harley. She enjoys classical music – her favorite is Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 2. He thinks Rachmaninoff is a Russian brand of exhaust muffler. What are the chances of these two hooking up on Tinder? Studies are finding that opposites do not attract. People are attracted to other people who are like themselves or how they would like to be.

To make a connection, you need to mirror that person both verbally and non-verbally. Verbally, you need to mirror the speed, tone, vocabulary, and volume of your counterpart. A client wants to cancel your services. That client is low energy, speaks in a slow deliberative monotone and his gestures are slower than a Brazilian three-toed sloth. If you are a high-energy, outgoing, charismatic, and expressive person, you would have difficulty connecting with him at this crucial time. You would need to lower your tone, your volume, and restrain your hand gestures. You would also be well advised to use the same words that he uses. You would also be well advised to mirror his nonverbal communication.

The majority of communication is nonverbal. We have already looked at hand gestures, but you also need to look at his body language. If he has his arms folded, he is on the defensive. Approaching him with open arms and moving in his direction would make him feel threatened and unresponsive to your negotiation tactics. If you also fold your arms and show you are no threat, it will put him at ease. You should also mirror his seating position. If he is sitting back with his legs folded, do the same. If he uncrosses his legs, do the same. Mimicking his, posture will lead him to the conclusion that there are commonalities between the two of you and will help to build rapport.

Exercise: Go to a coffee shop and find someone that is sitting a couple of meters away. As unobtrusively as possible, start to mirror the gestures and mannerisms of that person and notice what happens in 5 to 10 minutes. You will get in sync with each other.

Rule 2: Develop your Legitimate Strangeness

René Char said you need to “develop your legitimate strangeness”. In a globalized and connected world, it helps to stand out in a crowd. It is all about differentiation. What are you doing or offering that no-one else in your space is doing? Hollywood has created the impression that great salesmen need to dress in tailored suits, flash gold Swiss watches, be charismatic, and exude confidence. You need to do everything possible to deviate from this stereotype and develop your strangeness. This advice needs to be tempered with maturity and wisdom. In the opening moments of Rocketman, the fantastical Elton John biopic, Taron Egerton enters a group-counseling session wearing a brightly adorned orange devil outfit decorated with sequins, feathers, and horns. Such an outfit may be inappropriate if you are selling a funeral policy.

Rule 3: Become a Storyteller

In 2009, a New York Times journalist Rob Walker embarked on an experiment to see if storytelling was a powerful commercial tool. He wanted to do a controlled experiment where the success could be measured in monetary terms. He called it his Significant Objects Test ( He bought two hundred objects on eBay each object costing approximately $1. He then sent an email to 200 writers and asked if they wanted to participate in the test where they would write a story about each object. One object was a snow globe that had the state of Utah on the base. The snow globe cost 99 cents. Blake Butler wrote a story about a box that his grandfather's grandfather kept under his bed…you will need to read the rest. The snow globe was sold for $59. A total of $129 was spent on the 200 objects. The total proceeds raised from the sale of these objects were $8,000. The total return on investment was 6,101 percent.

Storytelling releases dopamine. This is the same chemical released into the brain when you fall in love. Most men can testify how after watching a James Bond movie, you want to go out and buy an Omega watch and Saville row tailored suite. This makes no sense. We all know that Bond is the ultimate escapism. We know that a fancy watch and a tailored suit is not going to lure a Russian goddess into your car, but dopamine and suspense make us do crazy things.

Rule 4: Build Long Term Relationships

Selling is about building relationships. Smart people, the ones you want as clients, can quickly see through all the bull of a slick snake oil salesman. You may close the deal but you may not build a long term relationship. Financial freedom is obtained through the acquisition of long term assets that provide a high-quality flow of income. This cash flow could be generated by forging long term relationships with a select group of high-quality clients that will keep coming back to you with repeat business.

Rule 5: Be Bold and Take Risks

You need to roll the dice. If you play it safe, your offering will blend into the market and go unnoticed. Risk must pervade your mission. You need to use strong language or face the possibility of portraying your brand in an anemic light.

Rule 6: Do Not F&ck It Up

Unless you have been living on Pluto for the last decade, you will know that people love to complain. The majority of new businesses focus on delighting the client. They use their consumer experience with Amazon and Jeff Bezos's obsession with client satisfaction as the cornerstone of their strategy. You, however, also need to factor in the potential danger of pissing a customer off.

Harvard Business Review says it not about delighting customers - it's about not repelling them. The impulse that consumers have to punish bad service in any way possible is significant, as evidenced by the following statistics:

  • 25% of customers are likely to say something positive about a customer service experience. 65% are likely to say something negative.

  • 23% of customers who had a positive experience told 10 or more people about it.

  • 48% of customers who had a negative experience told 10 or more people about it. It is easier to criticize than to praise.

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