Does “Being Yourself” Count As A Sales Technique?


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I few days ago, I started a discussion with “What Are The 3 Characteristics That Set Great Sales People Apart?”  followed by “How Important Are ‘Techniques’ To Sales?”  I hadn’t meant to turn this into a series (or saga), but the discussion has been very interesting.  For me, it has been a bit of a journey of discovery.  I’ve always had an aversion to what I call “techniques”  — those 68 closing techniques, the persuasion technique and so forth. 

At the same time, there are techniques or tools that I have found very helpful, questioning approaches, storytelling as a means of illustrating complex points, using humor to offset my natural clumsiness, and so forth.   Somehow, these techniques have become “a part of me.”  They are natural, I never have to think about them, they seem to flow with what I am trying to achieve in engaging the customer.

Perhaps my aversion to what I view as “the techniques” is that I’ve never been very good at using most of them.  I get too caught up in listening to the customer and having a conversation to remember that I should be “mirroring” them or that I should be using certain neuro linguistic or psychological wording  (Make sure you say their name in every sentence …. or whatever that one is).  Somehow I’m too busy working with the customer defining the next steps and moving forward to remember to ask if they like German Shepherds or Saint Bernards (I think the puppy dog close goes something like that).

I wonder if being yourself counts as a technique?  Somehow, I have found my customers and prospects seem to like having a conversation, they tend to appreciate directness.  I have managed to stop saying “that’s the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard, “  but I chalk that up to politeness.  I tend to handle that with, “Have you ever considered looking at it differently?”  Maybe that’s a technique.

I think of the experiences I’ve had with people selling me something.  I know they are trying to sell me something, I don’t resent it, after all I participating in the discussion.  But the sales calls I appreciate the most are those great directed and focuses conversations.  No pretense, no techniques (I know most of them well enough that I watch for them), just a discussion focused on what I am trying to achieve and how they can help me.

I sit in meetings in large corporations–I see selling going on in every meeting.  People trying to persuade others about an idea or an approach.  People discussing different things, having honest disagreements or differences but working to resolve them.  People aligned to achieving common goals.

Sometimes I think we would be much more effective as sales professionals if we started simplifying things, if we had the courage to be ourselves, if we focused on natural conversations with our customers.  Be sure, these aren’t random or wandering conversations.  Remember, one of the characteristics that I think distinguishes top sales performers is “goal directed curiosity and a problem solving orientation.”  I don’t have a lot of patience (or the requisite social graces) for random conversations.  I’m interested in having great conversations with people who have problems or goals that I can do something about.  I’m interested in learning what they want to achieve and demonstrating how I can help them achieve their goals better than anyone else.  I tend to be very focused and direct about this and they know it.  Somehow, virtually everyone seems to appreciate it—they like getting to the issues without the typical “dancing” we often do.

Let me crawl further out on the limb I’m on.

Sometimes I think we use ” the techniques” for surrogates for being ourselves and being truly engaged in having a conversations with our customers.  When we aren’t curious about the customer and what they are trying to achieve, when we aren’t trying to solve problems, when we really don’t care about them other than convincing them to buy our products, it’s hard to be ourselvesa and be engaged.  Perhaps this is when we use techniques.  Perhaps this is a sweeping generalization and very inaccurate, but it seems those people (I hesitate to call them sales professionals) who use “the-techniques” in the most manipulative ways are those who are more focused on themselves and selling their product and less focused on me and what I need.

Techniques can be important and useful, but I think they have greatest impact when they allow the sales person to be her/himself and enable them to connect more naturally in real conversatons with the customer.

Am I crazy?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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