Big sales tip: How interesting are you?

As salespeople we are always taught to conduct great conversations with customers.  But how do you do that?  What is it that makes a great conversation?  Would you believe me if I told you it’s easy? All you have to do is remember one rule:  It’s not about you.

“If you your lips would keep from slips

Five things observe with care:

Of whom you speak, to whom you speak,

And how and when and where.

If you your ears would save from jeers,

These things keep meekly hid:

Myself and I, and mine and my,

And how I do and did.”

The second stanza of this little poem contains all the wisdom. Just make sure your conversations have nothing at all to do with you, but everything to do with your customer.

Why do you think this is hard to do?

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedIt’s because your manager hammers you about your product goals, the marketing department has sent you a Power Point presentation about how wonderful your company is, your spouse is looking forward to your sales bonus and the product managers have drilled you about the latest features and innovations you should emphasize in your sales pitches.

So what’s on your mind when you make a call?  You start by showing a few slides about the company, you know, the ones marketing sent.  Pause now and inject a little something about yourself. After all, you’ve been in the industry for 18 years and have a great deal of expertise in this, that and the other thing.

Now you can smoothly segue into an overview of the 2-3 products you think would be ideal for this customer.  Say things like “cutting edge,” “best-in-class,” and “state of the art.”  That’ll impress them.  See what I mean?  Your orientation is to talk about you, and it doesn’t work.

Let me tell you about Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.  Goldman has 30,000 employees and every year they take on a huge number of summer interns.  In one address to the interns, whose goal it is to become billionaires one day, Blankfein simply told them one key to success: “Be interesting.”

That’s a darned good piece of advice.  Are you interesting? Do people find conversations with you to be riveting, absorbing? Here’s how to be interesting.

Show people that the most important thing in the world to you is whatever they are doing, and mean it.  If your customer takes you on a tour of his factory where they make bottle caps, determine that you need to understand everything there is to know about bottle caps, not because it makes your customer feel proud, but because bottle caps is an interesting thing to know.

The most interesting people in the world* are considered interesting mostly because they demonstrate a sincere interest in others. So remember the key words of the poem. If you want to be interesting, these things keep meekly hid: myself and I, and mine and my, and how I do and did.  In other words,

Think Like Your Customer

*Just for the record, I live in Coppell, TX, a city of about 40,000 just outside of Dallas, and I am known as “the most interesting man in Coppell.”  Go ahead, Google it.