Business Eye: Learn how to do the salesman’s foxtrot!

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

What skill do you instinctively realise to be essential in business, have you never bothered to learn professionally or apply with determination, and do you hate when you see it done well by others?

That’s right, selling is the black sheep of the skills family, one we are embarrassed to let others witness, that we don’t like to talk about, yet is the differentiating factor amongst the fields of grey business sheep stretching out as far as the eye can see. 
Cold calling and pitching to an unwelcoming audience has always required particular strengths of character such as persistence way beyond the norm, the capacity to take ‘no’ as learning response, and to not be fazed by the inevitable bile and rudeness you sometimes encounter from Mr and Ms Angry.

To deserve a great sales job, you will be the person who on being told you haven’t got it, rocks up in the car park, uncovers the boss’s objections and keeps closing until you are sold. 
Let’s face it, if you don’t believe in yourself and can’t sell yourself, the product about which you should be most proud and clued up, what chance have you got of selling aluminium cooker hoods?

This is what we dislike about successful salespeople – they appear to love themselves too much and won’t take no for an answer.

They are modern day gladiators. What has, however, changed considerably today is the buyer, and what it now takes to make a sale.

Put bluntly, it used to be that buyers didn’t have much information, often quite enjoyed the opportunity for a chat in their dark corners, and had a very narrow circle of influence.

These days they almost certainly know more than you about what you are selling, have the attention span of a gnat, and are connected to the entire globe in real time through Twitter et al.

This means that the old sales foxtrot of first gaining empathy by connecting about the family, then explaining how great your company is to demonstrate authority, followed by features and the sizzle of your product benefits, leading to a test close to flush out objections to be answered before closing the deal with a compelling offer, will have you treading all over the toes of the buyer who is today dancing the jive at speed in full flow, not the foxtrot.