I Learned How To Sell From A Chick Flick

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"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that." This was Lloyd Dobler's response when asked by Diane Court's father about his career aspirations. There was a lot of wisdom in Cameron Crowe's film "Say Anything".

Recently, I was speaking with a young sales professional who was struggling with a sense of discomfort in making that first tough call to a prospective customer. She did not want to feel too "salesy." I get that a lot and can empathize with her worry. It doesn't seem that long ago, that I thought that was the only way to sell. Fortunately, that thinking proved flawed, and I soon realized that being "salesy" was actually one of the least effective approaches to selling.

She did not want to feel too "salesy."

There's that climactic scene in the movie where Lloyd pulls up to Diane's house and climbs out of his car. He stands, dressed in a brown trench coat and holds a stereo high over his head as the Peter Gabriel song "In Your Eyes" pours out of the speakers. Maybe it was the fact that this movie came out just as I was about to be married, or it could be the fact that what it kindled became a somewhat embarrassing penchant for watching "chick flicks". But, whatever the reason, I just love that scene, and in it, I found two secrets to effective selling.

Maybe it was the fact that this movie came out just as I was about to be married, or it could be the fact that what it kindled became a somewhat embarrassing penchant for watching "chick flicks".

The first one is that you need to be all in. You must believe fully in what you are selling. Without that conviction, you'll never persuade others to join you. Lloyd is the epitome off all in. He may be wearing that really cool trench coat, but he stands completely exposed. There is nowhere to hide, he just holds that stereo above his head in full belief of what he is trying to communicate.

He may be wearing that really cool trench coat, but he stands completely exposed.

The second secret is hidden in the lyrics of that Peter Gabriel song. "In your eyes, I am complete." Obviously, this is a love song. Look past that part of the message and delve a bit deeper with me if you would. What those lyrics convey is that regardless of how incomplete I may feel, in your eyes I'm complete. So, it is not how I see the world that is important, it's how you see it that's critical. Similarly, in selling, what matters is not what you have to show or tell, but rather, what is heard and seen. The key is to always approach sales from behind the eyes of your customer. What is it that they are looking for? What is it that they want? What are their concerns, worries, threats and opportunities? See what they see, and then figure out how your offer solves their challenge or meets their need.

It is not how I see the world that is important, it's how you see it that's critical

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My advice to that young sales professional? Make sure you believe fully in what you are selling and that you understand what is exactly that you do for your customers. Then, before you ever pick up that phone, picture them on the other end of the line. Think about what might be keeping them up at night, or what pressure their boss may have put on them. Ask yourself what might make their job tough or cause them stress. Once, and only once, you feel you see and know the answers to those questions from their eyes, do you make that call.

Learn from Lloyd Dobler. Be fully committed, open, empathic and a good listener and you will be a very effective salesperson. See, there is a lot from a good chick-flick. So for those of you who know the movie well, we have reached 10,000 feet "Ding".

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I serve as a thinking partner, providing my clients with the clarity, focus, and tools they need to make good people and product decisions. I help my clients tell their stories and build relationships with their customers. I enable their leaders to better connect and communicate with those whom they lead. Thanks for reading  --  Elliot Begoun

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