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Good at selling, pity about the people skills?

July 14, 2009

Being able to sell is a critical skill, and not just for people with sales in their job title. It’s a key skill in both business & personal life to be able to influence  people in order to get the outcome that you want.

But what makes someone good at selling? The classic view of a sales person is dogged persistence; just keep at it until the target gives in. I recently came across someone with just that characteristic, and found it to be a very effective technique to make me do what they wanted – eventually.  But whilst it might help someone to achieve a short term aim, it can really backfire long-term. In this instance, it made me very reluctant to do what was requested of me; in fact a more empathetic approach towards me would have resulted in a much faster ‘win’ for the sales person. I would have listened more to the ideas, rather than immediately becoming defensive and unwilling to compromise. And I guess that neither of us benefited from the deal as much as we might have done, if the initial ‘sales’ approach had been less aggressive.  Is that a problem for the sales person or for me?

We all know people that we really don’t want to speak to, and whose emails we ignore for as long as possible. Can we afford to ignore them, though? Much as I would prefer to only work with people that we like, perhaps we need to keep a more open mind?

As a marketing professional, I take great care in crafting the right message for the right audience.  But even in this electronic age the human touch matters, even if we never meet the other person. The messenger is still more important than the message, and the ability to relate to other people, whether face-to-face or tweet-to-tweet, is the most important ‘sales’ skill of all.

What do you think?

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