This is a guest blog by Pamela A. Scott
“I hate sales!” “I could never sell anything!” I wish I had a dime—maybe a dollar—for every time I uttered phrases like that.
My first business coach helped me break that thought pattern. Here is how the thinking goes:
- You are an engineer who excels at (fill in the blank).
- You happen to meet Chris, whose company does (fill in the blank).
- Chris mentions that he/she really needs help filling a client’s request for (what you provide).
- Upon hearing that, you say, “I/we can help you with that.”
- Chris says, “I’d like to learn more. Call me.”
Did you sell anything? No.
Did you tell Chris you could help with the problem? Yes.
Did you have to take Chris down some long sales conversation to get his/her interest? No.
Will you close the deal? The likelihood is high.
Change Your Thinking
Selling isn’t about selling in that icky, slimy way that you have perceived it. Selling is about you providing a friend/client/stranger with a solution to the problem they’re trying to address. In return for your help, you get paid.
If you’re still on the fence, ask yourself who you pay to provide a needed service to you. Your yard people? Your mechanic? Your babysitter?
I love this quote from author and psychologist Wayne Dyer: “When you change the way you think about things, the things you think about change.”
Change how you think about selling. Build relationships instead.
Here is some great advice from two of my favorite coaching clients.
Anna Shmukler, P.E., retired CEO
Anna was my first coaching client a long time ago. Originally from Ukraine, she became a partner in a small transportation engineering company in the U.S. Then she became CEO and soon learned how much she did not know.
However, Anna did know she needed to build relationships to grow her business.
“I’m a complete introvert. I just don’t talk to people,” Anna said in an interview recently. “I hated phone calls. I mean, I still hate phone calls.”
“So I had to break myself and become this person that comes over and talks and smiles and laughs and is outgoing,” Anna said.
Check out this short clip to see what Anna advises you to do. And why.
Doug Shaw, AIA, CEO of Jericho Design Group
Doug is the opposite of Anna. I say he can sell anything to anybody. Business development is not a problem for Doug.
That’s why I was startled at Doug’s response when I recently asked him for his advice for someone who’s 37 to 40 years old and wants to move up in their company. “What does that person need to do from a business development perspective?” I asked.
His response: Stop selling. Check out the short clip to see what he means.
People Buy Based on Emotions, Not Logic
I have had interesting conversations with some very logic-minded engineers over the years. They tell me customers buy from them because of:
- Their technical expertise: “We’re the best”
- Their experience: “25 years in business”
- Price point: Underbid the competition
The truth is, people buy from you because they:
- Like you, as Anna said
- Believe you truly understand their needs, as Doug said
- Have a relationship with you
For more information on why people buy from you and on why you aren’t selling, check out these resources:
- Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion: The classic on why we do what we do (my favorite)
- Sales Brain: Neuromarketers explain sales and persuasion with tons of graphics
- Inc.: Emotions drive purchasing decisions and decision-making
About the Author Pamela A. Scott
Pam is an executive coach to CEOs and business owners, focusing on communication, managing people, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Her tagline says it best: “Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.”®
Pam started her company more than 20 years ago. For much of that time, Pam has coached engineers and architects to be leaders in their companies.
She brings more than 25 years of communications expertise and leadership experience as:
- A national award-winning newspaper editor
- A communications specialist writing for Congress
- A successful entrepreneur specializing in coaching clients to reach their full potential
Clients have ranged from solo practitioners to companies such as Turner Broadcasting System, Coca Cola, Federal Reserve Bank, and engineering firms such as Walter P. Moore. For 15 years, Pam was a member of Vistage, an international organization of CEOs.
Pam has a master’s in education and human development from George Washington University and a bachelor’s in communication from Bethany College. In Toastmasters, she has achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leadership Bronze levels.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on how people drive the numbers for your business.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success