Everyone is a salesperson … whether you like it or not

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Everyone is a salesperson for all of your life. Whether you are a mechanic, teacher or manager, you are selling ideas. You are negotiating. You are communicating … persuading … influencing.

If you don’t believe you are a salesperson, I encourage you to rethink your position, because the probability that you will become successful is significantly diminished by that mindset.

This is a lesson for people who might tell me that my most recent book is not for them. The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World is for everyone, especially now. The hardcover edition was published in November 2011. The paperback version came out May 1 containing 10 new chapters and nine new “quickies” on such important topics as relationships/networking and time management. I’d like to share a preview of the new material.

Networks are the foundation of business. Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.”

Ace networkers learn to master the navigation and the niceties that earn networkers acceptance, respect and authority. Here are three road-tested tips:

Create timelines for your networking goals. Be patient. Understand it may take one or two years to position yourself in a network. Always plan supporting network routes to business objectives far ahead. Totally determined to sell a major prospect and ready to make a proposal in 18 months? Is the buyer an opera buff or dedicated to funding a dialysis center? Are you building a network path to mesh with those passions?

Don’t stall answers. When you acquire a serious network presence, you’ll be asked for favors in no time. Don’t be slow to answer calls, even if you can’t promise your contact much help. Networks telegraph who are the fast responders and slowpokes. The biggest mistake you can make is not to answer a viable network member reaching out to you. That remains true even if it’s just to say “no” in a clear and polite way.

Act confidently and take meaningful risks. In networking, as in anything, the wise person isn’t the one who makes the fewest mistakes. It’s the one who learns the most from them.

Discussing time management, my favorite lesson comes from the late Peter Drucker, who said, “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”

We all start out with one thing in common — the same number of minutes and hours in each day. So why do some accomplish so much, and others, very little? Because so few of us have learned to beat the clock.

For a salesperson, time isn’t next to money in the asset column. It is money. Not everyone’s clock ticks to the same drumbeat. I poked around and learned that 9 to 5 didn’t have to be 9 to 5. It didn’t matter how my clock ticked. What mattered was how my prospects’ clocks ticked.

Some buyers came in at 6 a.m. Some worked until 7 p.m. Some worked Saturday mornings.

That boiled down to an edge, if I chose to use it — three hours every morning, two hours every afternoon and four hours on Saturday. This was invaluable competition-free time. Naturally, these slots turned out to be my most productive opportunities.

So I changed the playing-field clock, then my contact tactics. Cold calls were out. I always called ahead to make sure the buyer was in. I made creative appointments and asked for only 300 seconds of the buyer’s time.

Sounds basic, but the message said my product was as special as my customers’ working hours.

These details helped me manage my own schedule more efficiently. They helped guarantee that I was up to bat when prospects were greatest for maximum payoff.

I’ve also added chapters on topics including how to be prepared should you ever lose your job, execution intelligence and the importance of volunteering.

Will any of these ideas require major changes?

Probably not, but I hope they help you see the importance of selling skills for success in any field.

Harvey Mackay has authored numerous best-selling business books with 10 million copies sold worldwide.