Everyone sells. Some professions are identified as sales positions, but in reality we all employ sales techniques in our lives and careers to some extent. I have studied sales techniques for decades and find that there are some fundamental mistakes being made by all of us "salespeople."
Don’t offer too much information.
My clients always want more and more information presented at trial, and despite my track record are nervous when I keep telling them that "less is more." Understandably, they think that presenting 100 reasons why they should win is better than presenting ten. In reality, every new fact and theory presents another reason for the jury to find against you.
For example, I recently obtained a million dollar verdict for a client after the defendant failed to repay a loan. The loan amount was around $200,000, but I was able to convince the jury that the utter failure to repay any of the amount owed demonstrated fraudulent intent, so the jury also awarded punitive damages.
We knew that the defendant had failed to repay loans made by others, and my client wanted me to make that fact a part of the trial. Her desire was understandable, because that evidence would have shown a pattern. But that evidence would have presented a new variable. What if defendant could have convinced the jury that the other loans were repaid, or there was some valid reason why they weren’t. The strength of our claim would suddenly be linked to the strength of the evidence as to the unrelated loans.
When you are selling – whether it is a timeshare, project idea, or yourself at an interview – don’t throw out every perceived beneficial fact. A prospective employee once told me about all the volunteer work she was doing, presumably to impress me with her giving nature. But that led me to ask about her time commitments to all this volunteer work, and it soon became clear that her work schedule would have to accommodate the demands of her volunteering. I appreciated the fatal honesty, but I’m sure that was not her intent.
Sound like you don’t care if you make the sale.
The single most important rule of negotiation is that you must be willing to walk away. Every time I buy a car, I am told that my price is too low and out of the question, until I thank the salesperson for his time and go to leave. Then my price suddenly becomes doable.
The same is true when making a sale. You’ll be amazed at how badly people want to buy from you when they are convinced that you and/or your product are so good that you don’t care if you make the sale. I don’t mean that you should come across as arrogant, just confident. I have potential clients call me with matters that don’t involve a lot of money, so after telling them the best way to proceed, I suggest that they find a less experienced attorney who will charge less. Even though I have just told them there are less expensive attorneys that can handle the job, in their mind I become the only attorney for the job and they happily pay my higher rate.
Show deference to the customer.
I am always amazed by the religious pamphleteers that try to get me to take their materials by saying, "it’ll change your life." I may not want to change my life, and it is presumptuous to assume I do.
A salesperson at the local electronics store was trying to sell me some very high-end speakers, and asked what I was currently using. When I told him, he basically responded that my speakers were crap. No doubt he believed that he could make the sale by convincing me the store's speakers were better than the ones I already owned, but this approach is stupid on several levels. First, just on an interpersonal level, why would I want to buy from someone who just told me I made a bad buying decision? Further, and in line with the earlier comment that you don’t want to provide too much information, back in the day I used to write for audio magazines, and I know a thing or two about speakers. I know from my own experience that my speakers are great, and had confirmed that through reviews by other writers. So with that comment he just informed me that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Again, too much information. Since he obviously did not know what he was talking about, his comment should have been, "if you are happy with your current speakers, then that's all that counts (thereby showing me he doesn't care if he makes the sale), but since you were looking at these speakers, let me tell you a little about them (thereby giving me the information he does know without showing his ignorance about other speakers)."
Don’t tell your prospect you can improve their life or business, because they will know more about their life or business than you. Tell them what you offer, tell them how it has helped others, and let them connect the dots to their own situation.