What and how are you learning and using that knowledge

March 22, 2010
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I have been a student of sales since Nov. 11, 1971. I was listening (via the brand new technology called the “cassette tape”) to a guy named Jay Douglas Edwards, who uttered the sales tip: “If the customer says, ‘Do these come in green?’ you say, ‘Would you like them in green?’”

That’s the day I realized that there was a science of selling. I wanted to learn more.

I will admit that most sales skills and sales tips taught in the 1970s were somewhat manipulative. But at the time, that’s all that existed. Over the last 40 or so years, sales models have changed.

Probably the best example of that change that I can offer you comes from a column I wrote several years ago about the “Benjamin Franklin close.” You can get that column in its entirety by going to www.gitomer.com/articles/ColumnSearchResults.html and entering the keyword: Franklin.

Basically what the column says is that rather than use an old, time-worn manipulative sales close on the customer, try using it on yourself as a means of preparation before you go into the sale.

I have read all or portions of hundreds of sales books over the past 40 years, but most of what I have learned has come from the spark of an idea gleaned from a book. Once I got out into the field and actually applied the strategy, I would somewhat alter the idea. Kind of like you.

All sales books offer some form of valuable information. All sales experts offer some form of valuable information.

As a student, your job is to determine how that information fits into your skill set, your environment, your marketplace and your customer interactions. Learning sales skills is a matter of understanding, adoption, application — and a bit of tweaking.

In my experience, I have found that unless the tip or strategy is comfortable to me, I won’t use it. It has to fit with my personality and be in the framework of my comfortable conversation and ethics.

How to read: As a reader myself, I am challenging you to look at the ideas you read with an open mind, and to strike from your mind the phrase “I know that.” Most salespeople already know everything. The problem is they don’t do it.

I would rather have you ask yourself: “How good am I at that on a scale of 1 to 10?”

Then ask yourself:

How does this information apply to me?

Do I agree with this?

Am I comfortable with this?

Does it fit my personality? Is this “me”?

If the answer to those questions is yes, then ask yourself the following three questions:

Is this in the best interest of the customer?

Will this lead to a long-term relationship with the customer?

And finally the true self-test question:

Will this make my mother proud?

Jeffrey, you ask, what about CDs and the Internet, YouTube, podcasts, and other forms of accessing sales skills information?

They’re all great! They’re just not as great as reading a book.

Of course, there are multi-media forms of sales information you can access. But none are as flexible as reading. Reading gives you a chance to move at your own pace, underline, scribble notes in the margins, re-read what you may not understand, even dog-ear the important pages and where you left off.

Reading time is usually quiet time. It gives you a chance for reflection. Whenever you choose, you can stop and think about the meaning and the aha! idea, or you can adapt and apply what you read.

The messages offered in books are from a combination of men and women — experts in their field — who have actually used these methods and strategies to build their own success. And your job is to adopt them, adapt them and turn them into money.

Maybe you should try to read a book a month.

Free Git-Bit: If you want my list of recommended reading, go to www.gitomer.com and enter the words SALES PILLS in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com.

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