Secrets of the Top 10% – Part 2: Compassion in Sales

In the last issue of Engaging Ideas, I promised to share
with you the secrets to success of countless top performers, and show
you how you can use that knowledge every day to sell more, in less
time – and make more money doing it.

We started with the first secret, Passion, and I issued you a challenge:
Love what you sell, or stop selling it, and do something else. Today,
we begin a two-part look at Secret #2: Compassion!

It’s been said that the art of sales is simply finding someone
in need, and helping them meet that need by buying a product from
you that solves their problem. At its most basic level, this is also
the definition of compassion in sales: helping other people to solve
their problems, and making a living doing it.

In other words, being compassionate in sales is all about being nice
to people. So how can we all be more compassionate in our businesses?

It’s not about you!
First, remember that success in business is about helping your customers
– not helping yourself!

Top performers put their customers first, because they know that
they’ll never succeed at an elite level if their objective is
solely to sell stuff to other people. The top 10% know that they can
only be successful if they’re focused instead on helping other
people to buy.

For most sales people, this represents a fundamental shift in their
mindset. How do you begin this transition? By asking your prospect
questions to find out what the problem is (or if there even is one),
and then listening to their answers with NO interruptions to see if
the problem is something you can help solve.

Top sales people never try to sell a product to a customer without
first knowing whether they can help. In fact, top performers will
gladly walk away from a prospect if they don’t think the product
or service they have to offer will be of use. Remember: selling isn’t
about telling a prospect what you think they want to hear. Selling
is about starting a dialogue to uncover a prospect’s problem,
and then helping them solve that problem in the best way possible.

Let’s face it, many sales people – myself included! –
are often accused of being fast talkers. Believe me, this isn’t
a compliment. As my wise father used to tell me: "Colleen, you
have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion!"

During any sales conversation, the best sales people only do between
20-30% of the talking. The rest of the time, they bite their tongues,
and actively practice their listening skills every day.

One way to improve your listening skills is to simply slow down.
The next time you find yourself in a conversation with a prospect,
once they stop talking, try counting to 3 in your head before you
start speaking (and not as quickly as you can, either; think: "1
one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3….). This will give enough time
for the prospect to gather their thoughts and start again if they
weren’t finished, but won’t last long enough to turn into
an awkward pause if they were finished and are just waiting for your

Just trying this one simple technique can completely change the impression
you make on your clients, and have an immediate impact on your sales
success. In fact, questioning and listening correctly are so critical
to the overall success of the sales cycles that we devoted an entire
on-line Webinar to it. For more details on this invaluable class,
check out this link

Whether ’tis better to give or receive
There are 2 types of people in this world: life givers and life suckers.
Top performers are live givers. Which type are you?

We all know who the life suckers are in our own lives. They whine
and moan and complain and want desperately to drag you into their
own personal purgatories. Nothing is ever right, they’re always
getting the short end of the stick, and don’t even think about
trying to out-whine them – they’ll just find something even
more devastating to complain about.

So what is a life giver? Life givers are those people in our lives
who are possessed of a high degree of empathy and optimism. In short,
life givers are those who give first.

Without exception, the very best sales people are life givers. They
understand and use the power of reciprocity every day, because they
understand and believe in the truth behind the statement "what
goes around, comes around."

For example, people are always asking me how they can get more referrals
from their customers. I say to them: "when was the last time
you gave a referral to one of your customers, without expecting to
get something in return first?"

If you do nothing for the rest of your life but give referrals first,
I can practically guarantee that you will never have to ask for another
referral for as long as you live. It doesn’t even have to be
a business referral. A client could call you up out of the blue to
say that they’re in town, and were wondering if you can recommend
any good restaurants? Or you might be at their house one night when
they mention how they never have time to get any landscaping done,
and you can share with them the name of that great landscaper you

The point is, we all talk about networking and how important it is.
What sets top performers apart is that they recognize that their networks
are not solely for their own benefit; they exist to support the people
in their network. The more they can pass those names around, whether
for business or personal referrals, the more it will come back to
them in spades – and without ever once having to ask.

Actions speak louder than words
Whether we like it or not, people don’t only pay attention to
what we’re saying when they’re making a decision to trust
us. They also judge us by how we say things, and especially by what
we do.

I know – you’re screaming right now, "that’s
not fair, I was always taught not to judge a book by its cover, and
others shouldn’t either!"
You’re right; it’s
not fair. Unfortunately, it’s still the way the vast majority
of people react to others around them. Since this fact of life isn’t
about to go away, why not learn to use it to your advantage?

Top performers know that they have to be compassionate not only in
their words, but also in their non-verbal communication, which accounts
for more than 90% of the way all communication is interpreted. This
means making eye contact, shaking your prospect’s hand, taking
notes to prove you’re interested, watching that your tone is
consistent with what you really mean and respecting your customers
enough to dress appropriately for a meeting.

Yes, this is all Basic Sales 101. Many of my clients accuse me of
being elementary, and with good reason. But as simple as it sounds
to implement, the sad truth is that 80% of the sales people I coach
do such elementary things as paying attention to non-verbal communication

I’ve seen sales people who constantly look over the shoulders
of their prospects to see if someone more important is walking by.
I’ve witnessed sales people looking at the floor or their PPT
slides rather than at their prospects during a sales presentation.
I’ve watched sales people who answer their cell phones during
sales calls, show up late for meetings, don’t shake hands or
who wear old, scuffed-up shoes.

Taking care of non-verbal communication is something that top performers
practice every day, because they know that it directly affects the
rapport they build with their prospects. In the long run, it is rapport
that leads to trust, and trust which leads to building a customer
for life.

Compassion may seem like a small thing, and in many ways, it is.
Ask questions, listen to the answers, give first and pay attention
to non-verbal communication, and you’ll be nine-tenths of the
way there. But in sales as in life, success is all about the little
things. Do hundreds of little things right, and you’ll be amazed
at the huge difference in can make on your results, your commissions
– and your success.

Commit yourself to improving just one of these little things before
the next issue of Engaging Ideas in two weeks’ time, and
see if you don’t find yourself on the way to being that much
better, and that much richer.

Join us next month when we finish our discussion on Compassion, and
how it can help take your career to a whole new level!