by Dirk Zeller
The Greatest Salesman in the World. Og Mandino wrote that classic some 30 years ago. It still sells over one million copies annually. After reading a tribute to Og, I started to think about what characteristics make a great salesperson. Og had many brilliant thoughts regarding sales and life.
He said in his book, “to live each day as though it were my last.” He also said, “to be persistent until you succeed.” Then, after spending time with a few of my nieces and nephews, I realized that we were all at one time the greatest salespeople in the world. We often embody Og’s above philosophies. At the age of three, we all had sales skills that were world class. Our own parents were afraid to take us to the toy store, for fear that we would sell them something. We all possessed three important skills to make the sale: persistence, creativity and the ability to ask one question after another. I think most of us lose our “sales skills” in our junior high and high school years. These are the years when we are really concerned about what others think and how they feel about us. Those self-conscious years of life when we are really trying to avoid any kind of rejection in our lives. But we could all improve our sales performance if we could turn back the clock and reclaim these three skills.
As small children, we all had the ability to ask a continuous stream of questions. Our questions were rapid-fire, coming one on top of another at a dizzying pace. I think we were trying to confuse the prospect. But we were also able to ask very simple, direct questions, without worrying about rejection. If I had a dollar for every time my niece asked me “Why?” in a three- hour period, I would be able to retire. “Why?” seems to be a favorite question of the under-five set. We should all be so bold. “Why do you feel your home is worth $15,000 more than other recent sales?” “Why are you offering $20,000 less than the true market value?” “Why, Mr. Co-op Agent, did you write the offer this way?” These are all “why” questions that any three-year-old would use in our business. The “why” questions help you to ferret out the reasons behind the decisions. It is easier to show the client, prospect or other agent an alternate approach if you know the reason behind the approach that has been taken. Focus on finding the why.
The childhood ability to ask questions was coupled with great creativity, when it came to getting what we wanted. We would ask the same question from different angles. We would try the same question on different people, involving our siblings or aunts or uncles, working to recruit allies to our cause. We would seek to get one of our parents to commit, then use that commitment to bring the other parent to the desired decision. When one approach didn’t work, we would try another. With an object in view, our creativity knew no limits. As adults, we learn from experience that some sales approaches work better for us than others. But we can get stuck in the method that usually works best, and be unable to make the sale in a situation that is an exception to the rules we have learned. On a listing appointment there is often one person that is easier to get agreement with than the other. Find that person and use them as an ally. Get agreement with that person first. They will actually help you sell the other party. Remember they have more experience getting agreement with the reluctant person than you do. In most cases they have been doing it for years. Childlike creativity can allow you to make opportunities out of what would otherwise be dead ends.
When creativity didn’t work, we pulled out the big gun — persistence. We were singularly focused on the result. We would spend hours, days, weeks, even months asking for the order, in the face of great opposition and even the possibility of punishment. We were in a battle of wills, and we were going to win; we had no intention of taking “no” for an answer. We were determined to get the desired “yes,” even if it meant wearing down the opposition over an extended period of time. Not every prospect becomes a client on the first encounter. But too often we are afraid to try more than once, even though no prospect has the power to send you to your room. The worst thing that can happen is another “no,” and with a child’s focus and persistence, you may turn that “no” into a “yes.” Long ago, we all had these three techniques, and we used them skillfully. We lost them later in life, but they don’t have to be lost forever. Take a cue from your children or nieces and nephews. Use their skills of questioning, creativity and persistence to your advantage. Then you will truly become, as Og Mandino wrote, the greatest salesperson in the world.
©Copyright 1999 by Dirk Zeller. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Dirk Zeller has acquired a tremendous amount of sales and real estate sales knowledge with his many years in real estate sales. He is an accomplished sales and success coach, trainer, and author. Dirk is the President and Head Coach of Real Estate Champions. Real Estate Champions provides one-on-one coaching to some of the top and up and coming producers in the real estate industry.
You can reach Dirk at:
Real Estate Champions
11325 S.E. Lenore Street
Clackamas, Oregon 97015
Phone: (877) RECHMPN (732-4676)