Susan Ibitz firmly believes that the craft of selling can be taught. With the proper training and guidance—with someone who knows what they’re doing—you can learn to excel. How do you come across as genuine? How can you train yourself to be more assertive?
People worry that getting the proper training somehow lessens their ability or makes the process less genuine. If you decide to lose weight, you aren’t changing who you are—you just become more slender. Training doesn’t change who you are, but it does make you better.
Socrates said it best: know thyself
You must train yourself to maximize the traits that you already have. Knowing your personality type can help you gain more insight. Susan uses the Myers-Briggs personality test to decide how to put a team together. She will never use it to decide to hire someone. But she asks every new person on her team to take the test. Susan herself is extremely introverted (98%).
People expect that introverts can’t possibly succeed at sales. But Susan points out that an introvert—when they talk about what they know—can be more aggressive than an extrovert. They are more insightful. When they talk about what they know, they can buy the room. The biggest difference is simply how you recoup energy.
65% of the population are introverts or ambiverts. An “ambivert” can navigate both introversion and extroversion. According to Susan, they make the best sales reps, managers, and doctors. Why? Because ambiverts know when they need to step back. When you pair an extrovert with an introverted customer, they won’t buy because they come off as too aggressive.
You can learn how to utilize who you are. If you don’t know who you are and how you are, you can’t communicate with others.
Learn to take cues from your customers
Susan was talking with a sales rep who had found out that a potential customer was about to get married. So she started their next conversation with that prospect congratulating her on her marriage. Her customer said, “Who told you I wanted to talk about my personal life?” That was the sales rep’s big mistake: That person had never talked about personal information previously. Susan was talking to the top sales rep of that company. She didn’t do the homework she was trained to do.
Susan points out that you can go to people’s LinkedIn page and see what they share. Do they have a Facebook page that is open to the public? What do they openly share? If they never talk about their personal life, it gives you the level of context to use in conversations. You need to look for their tendencies and evaluate the words they use. Paying attention to the details and using their language can help you establish rapport. You don’t have to be an extrovert or natural-born salesperson to learn these details.
Stop selling—but never stop selling
Susan has had meetings with clients where they talk about working together and work to build rapport. They never talk about the sale—but by the end of the call, they ask her to send over a proposal. She always asks the salespeople she’s training: “Are you willing to ask your customers how the experience was?” She usually gets met with blank stares and crickets. You need to sell what the customer needs, not what you want to sell them. You need to know who you have in front of you. Behavior can be 90% of the sale.
YOU are the marketing campaign
All good commercials tell you a story, right? They tell you how someone learned to ride a horse or how a company was built. The funny thing is that you don’t drink Coca-Cola because you see it. You drink it because someone tells you about it. Marketing is the funnel to tell the story and remind people that you are there. If there is a product to sell, there is a story to tell. People Google your product, your company, and you. You are the marketing campaign. You are part of the product that you’re selling. Your job is to keep the story alive.
Don’t be afraid to fire your customer
Susan knows that one of the most difficult things for sales reps to learn is when to step out of a sale. Sometimes you just need to fire your customers. You can’t be afraid to pull the trigger. She understands that many salespeople have quotas to meet. They often operate out of a scarcity mindset. But not every customer is right for your product or services.
If Susan has to have three calls with a potential client to explain what she does, she knows it’s not the right match. She can’t spend six months babysitting someone. She questions, “How many hours are you willing to invest in a customer to watch things fall apart?”
Susan Ibitz is a human-behavior expert. She is a corporate trainer, keynote speaker, author, and consultant. But she is most well-known as the “Human Behavior Hacker.” To hear her insights on recognizing micro-expressions in the age of face masks and how to have a stellar virtual sales-call, listen to episode #21 of the Content Callout podcast. You won’t regret it.