Good salespeople care about their customers: Successful Selling

By Sam Allman

Is anyone truly born with a knack for sales? Are there individuals who can, as the old adage says, sell ice to Eskimos or dirt to farmers? And what makes these individuals so skilled at selling? Is it a silver tongue or something else entirely that enables them to make sales and close deals?

There are many who believe that the silver-tongued, with their smooth sales pitches, are naturally born salespeople. These individuals know what to say—and how and when to say it—in the sales process, and the customer, seemingly mesmerized by their persuasive charm, agrees to buy. In reality, I think these customers often sign on the dotted line just to get that silver tongue to stop waggling. This sort of silky sales pitch often creates red flags for salespeople-weary customers who have been burned by those who will do or say anything to make the sale. And to the rest of us, it just seems insincere. 

So, are there individuals who are naturally talented at sales? I believe the answer is yes, and in fact my research confirms that some individuals are very good at selling without ever having attended a class or read a book on the subject.

Those with an inherent knack for sales love people. They care about people. They will not consciously hurt or mislead others to make a sale. In fact, they will walk away from a potential sale if what they’re selling isn’t in the best interest of the customer. Their mindset is always win-win. In other words, their heart is in the right place. They act from the paradigm of mutual benefit: I get what I want by helping you get what you want. A caring heart is more important than a silver tongue; it’s even more important than good technique. Seminars and books can teach technique, but they can’t teach an individual to truly care about others.

This reminds me of an exchange that I had with a street vendor in Haiti, who was trying to sell me a beautifully carved mahogany statuette. Trying to see how low he would go, I offered him a ridiculously low price. He responded, “Hey, mister, have a heart!” It was like a slap in the face. He was desperately poor, and I was willing to take advantage of him. My heart was not in the right place. 

What it all comes down to is love. The love you have for others trumping the love you have for yourself. I believe John Lennon said it best with “All you need is love.” Or the apostle Paul, who said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” That kind of sounds like a silver-tongued salesperson, doesn’t it? Love is a powerful tool because it powerfully influences others.

Most of us are basically selfish. We think only of ourselves. We do things for our own reasons. Lovers are unselfish. Lovers get what they need by serving and giving. The benefit is mutual. Love creates purpose, and purpose is what drives them. Purpose is what drives a mother or father to do anything, even to their detriment, to protect their children.

Love works because it builds and sustains trust. Trust is the foundation of all relationships. We trust people who love and who care for us until they prove differently. Trust takes time to build but seconds to destroy. “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted,” said Mahatma Gandhi. Love doesn’t necessarily guarantee trust, but it can initiate the building of it. That’s what I believe makes some salespeople naturally born: the ability to build trust quickly with total strangers because of their caring demeanor. I don’t believe a caring heart can be taught, but I believe it can be learned. 

But how do we care for or love total strangers? The answer to that question is to understand what love really is. Most think that love is a feeling. In his bestselling book, The Road Less Traveled, Dr. M. Scott Peck writes about the myth of romantic love. He claims that love is an action, a verb—and not a feeling. If we love someone, we nurture them, we take care of them, we invest in them, we give them of our time and resources. The spirit of love is the spirit of giving. The feeling eventually comes, but only because of our actions. We value people and things because we invest in them; the greater the investment, the greater the feeling. If you have fallen out of love, odds are you have stopped investing or giving.

Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages, describes the five main ways in which people show love. Naturally born salespeople speak the five languages of love. To be a lover, you must be fluent in all five because not everyone responds to each love language. That is why love can fail, because we instinctively love the way we want to be loved, which may not be the way the individuals with whom we are involved want to be loved. Though the golden rule tells us to “do unto others as you would be done unto,” the platinum rule says to “do unto others as they would be done unto.” In other words, if you want to love me, then use the love language I prefer. 

Naturally born salespeople attract people, and, in response, people flock to be in their presence. It’s what Mother Theresa meant when she said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” Love your customers, and they will become your advocates.

The first love language is the gift of quality time. The best salespeople are great listeners. Even if they are not initially interested, they listen to everything the customer says, and they use phrases that perpetuate the conversation, like “What else?” and “Tell me more.” This love language requires patience but generates empathy, the root of compassion and the number one characteristic of peak performing salespeople.

The giving of a gift is the second love language. Gifts are the symbols of love. Symbols can have deep emotional value. The gift is a visual symbol that someone is thinking about someone else. And it’s not only the thought that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing and giving the gift as an expression of love. Gifts do not have to be expensive. Offering a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day or a bottle of water in the middle of the summer to a thirsty customer may be enough.

The third love language is a gift of your actions: acts of service. It’s the power of doing something for someone. Its effect is much more profound when the service is not solicited or is unexpected. For a salesperson, it might mean taking samples to a home, carrying a child to a car or escorting customers with an umbrella if it’s raining. This is my wife’s love language. She feels loved when I take out the garbage, clean the kitchen or carry in the groceries, especially if I do it without being asked. Interestingly, I get more mileage out an act of service than by surprising her with a dozen roses. 

Love language number four is words of affirmation. Words are powerful. Lovers use words to nurture others by making them feel important. Kind words, respectful words, encouraging words and grateful words send messages that make people feel good inside. I think that is what the Dalai Lama meant when he said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others, and if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” 

Finally, the last love language is the gift of touch. In a time of crisis, we hug one another. Babies who are not touched, cuddled or held do not develop well emotionally or socially. We need a physical connection with others. A firm handshake or a slight touch on an arm may be all that is needed. This is my preferred love language. I know I have done well when my customer hugs me. I was told by a peak performing salesperson that he touches his customer as soon as possible upon meeting them. 

So how many love languages do you speak? Using the strategies of the truly naturally born salesperson is not hard. It just takes a caring heart, an unselfish attitude and a desire to change. All you need is love, because when your customers feel it, they are more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and give you the order. Helping customers succeed or get what they want is not an attempt to be nice; it is not philanthropic or selfless. It is a powerful means of getting what you want! That’s the paradox. The more important it is that you make your numbers, the more important it is to stop concentrating on yourself and start concentrating on the customer’s need to be loved.

Copyright 2015 Floor Focus