I’m a big believer in the focusing on basics. Never mind the elaborate "selling systems"
or prefab scripts that are out there. The single most important thing you can do to improve
your sales performance in any kind of organization is this: be nice to people.
I don’t just mean that you need to be nice in a small way (you know…to always remember your
manners just like Mom taught you). What I mean is that it’s important to be nice in a big way—in
a way that can make a difference in the lives of others.
There are millions of little things that each of us can do every day to be nice to others.
From remembering birthdays to sending thank-you cards, from doing little extras for others
to sending chocolates or flowers to someone you’re thinking of—when you make a
point of being nice, you play a role in the happiness of others. And just as important, you
help shape how others see you.
Think of how you felt the last time you received an unexpected card from a friend or someone
you work with. It’s a good feeling, right? And it means a lot when you know that someone
has taken the time to think about you. It says that someone cares about you and wants you
to be happy.
The way you do the things you do
Of course when it’s just a kind gesture or two, being nice doesn’t take much effort at all.
Making a habit of it means that a bit more thinking has to go
into what you’re doing. Getting good—really good—at being nice means you have to keep an
eye on the things you do on a regular basis.
Here are three tips to keep in mind…
First, be consistent. If you want to be the person who always remembers
everyone’s birthday, it’s just not going to be enough to remember once and then never again.
By being consistent, you demonstrate to people that what you’re doing is more than being
nice simply because you woke up one morning in a great mood. You’re showing that this is
something you do as a matter of practice…because you really care.
Second, be prompt. Don’t wait a month before sending out thank you cards
after hosting that great party. Do something while the memory and the good feelings are still
fresh in everyone’s minds. You’re sending a powerful message to people about what matters
to you in your life.
Third, be thoughtful. This is where your creativity and attention to detail
can help you really stand out. Remember that there are no limits to how much you can care
for others. Recently I was told a great story about a top salesperson who was asked what
set him apart from everyone else in his business. "I genuinely love people and I like showing
how much I appreciate them," he explained. "There are plenty who remember to send out a birthday
card to a friend or client, but I’ll bet I’m the only one who thinks to also send out a birthday
card to that person’s beloved dog!"
Just a little of the human touch
Being nice is all about getting in touch with the human element of what we do in life. And
as obvious as it may seem, the importance of being nice is, like a lot of basics, something
that a lot of people overlook or underestimate. And yet it’s timeless advice! Go back and
look at what people like Zig Ziglar were teaching
forty years ago. He recognized, as I do, that there is immense potential in the power of
goodwill and kindness. And that applies not just to our personal relationships, but to
our business ones, too.
Remember that buying is a very personal, emotional decision. When buyers have a choice,
they’ll choose to do business with the person they like and trust the most. That’s what’s
missing in the process approach to sales—and that’s why adopters of that approach tend to
wind up disappointed.
The process approach to sales tells people to act and behave the same way in front of every
customer—start with step one, then you have to do step two, then you have to do step three.
There’s no room for, well, the niceties of life. Instead, it assumes that buyer
behavior can be changed by force. And that’s how buyers and sellers get out of sync.
On the other hand, making a habit of being nice has its own modest requirements—you need
to invest some time listening to and thinking about others.
In return it pays dividends in all kinds of ways that all those sales approaches simply
cannot touch! Not only does it help make you a better person and help shape the lives of
others, being nice can also influence the bottom line of your organization.
Consider the first-hand experience of Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Korval, the authors
of ‘The power of nice: How to conquer the business world with kindness’. "In
less than a decade, we built the Kaplan Thaler Group into a powerhouse in advertising with
close to $1 billion in billings…Our success was won not with pitchforks and spears, but with
flowers and chocolates…(and) smiles and compliments."
By investing a little in the power of being nice—listening compassionately to others and
tending to their needs—you can make an amazing difference in your life and in the lives of
others. Just as the Dalai Lama sagely prescribes: "If you want others to be happy, practice
compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
Whether you’re looking to improve your personal relationships or your record as a sales
professional, concentrate on fine-tuning this important basic. In doing so, happiness and
success will find you.