You don’t have to be in sales to wish you were a good salesperson. After all, every instance of persuasion—whether it’s getting your team to improve its performance or your boss to green-light your proposal—is a form of selling. Being personable and articulate helps, of course. But getting buy-in is more about know-how than natural gifts, says Joanne Black, who has more than 35 years of sales and management experience and is author of Pick Up the Damn Phone: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. Here, her four steps to winning people over to your side:
#1. Focus on the “buyer.”
“When people make their pitch, they often start off talking about their product, service or idea—how wonderful it is, why it’s better, why it’s special, etc. But what you really should be doing is focusing on the buyer and what is important to him or her, and then framing what you’re selling as serving those needs and priorities. For example, if you want to work one day a week from home, don’t say that it’s noisy in your cubicle and hard to concentrate. Tell your boss that if you work at home, where it’s quiet, you’ll be more able to hit your deadlines and turn in work that is more creative.”
#2 Tap into his or her emotions.
“There’s a saying in sales: People buy with emotion and justify with fact. If you don’t connect with a person on a visceral level, you’ll never get the sale. So instead of being cut-and-dry and all-business, we should be acknowledging people’s emotions—‘you look upset,’ ‘you don’t sound so great’— and talking about them before moving onto business. Or in a setting where you are leading a team, you get the team behind you by connecting with their emotions, because it’s from there that they derive their passion.”
#3 Always have your goal in mind.
“I go into client meetings with my goals written down, which often means my next goal is getting another meeting. Of course, sometimes, you don’t have time to prepare, but even when, say, you’re suddenly called into the boss’s office, or someone says, ‘You should meet Bill while you’re here,’ you can be thinking throughout that face-to-face about what you can say or do in your impromptu meeting with Bill to advance you to your goal.
#4 Practice your pitch.
“You need to get your proposition out of your head and into practice. It’s not real until you say it or write it down. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Say it out loud to yourself—or even better, record it on your voicemail and play it back so you can hear yourself and make adjustments.”