The One Minute Salesperson

Sales is an interesting career as it is one that is commonly learned not taught. Every salesperson needs to find their own approach rather than utilizing a cooker cutter method of selling. I recently read The One Minute Salesperson, authored by Spencer Johnson and Larry Wilson who give a perspective that far too many salespeople forgot. Their lessons are told through a parable about a young salesperson who took on the traditional way of selling, but, over time he found out this was not working and it was becoming stressful. He received several helpful tips from a well-known salesperson who focussed less energy but closed more sales. Below are my three main take aways from the reading.

1. Focus on helping people

It’s important to take a minute to make sure you’re helping your customers get what they want rather than selling them something you want. Johnson and Wilson added, “I just invest a minute when I am selling to ask myself: Am I more concerned with trying to get what I want? Or am I really helping other people get what they want” (p. 29). Sometimes it’s easy to forget what you are selling to your customer. Taking a minute to make sure you’re helping out the customer for the right reasons will only benefit both parties.

2. Have the right intentions

The successful salesperson told the younger man that once you stop caring so much at trying to get what you want and start helping the customer get what they want, it is a more enjoyable experience for all involved. Sometimes people try so hard to get something they want, such as a sale, that they create more of a hassle for themselves. Salespeople can get too caught up in making a sale that they forget their sole purpose; selling the customer a product or service that they want. Success comes when you help people get what they want and most likely you will get what you want in return.

3. Remember that you’re selling to a person so you need to be respectful

In treating people with respect can help build a level of trust between the customer and the salesperson and may even help sell the product better. Johnson and Wilson stated, “The other person, the one so many people call a customer or a prospect-is in fact, a person. If you treat him or her as a commodity, or as anything but a person, you reduce yourself to a peddler” (p. 18). People can tell when they are not being respected or are seen as anything but a price tag and they are likely to walk away.

Throughout our whole lives we try to sell people ideas such as trying to get a colleague to go to happy hour with us or asking our parents if we can have a sleepover. Whether it has to deal with money or not, we are trying to make a deal with someone. Being a successful salesperson doesn’t exactly mean that you were born one but rather that you used all of the people skills that you learned throughout your life and applied them to sell your product or service. Johnson and Wilson explained, “When I want to remember how to sell, I simply recall how I – and other people – like to buy” (p. 44). By doing this, you are using skills that you already have such as knowing how you would react if someone was selling something to you. This can then be replicated when you try to sell something to someone else. “People don’t buy services, products, or ideas. They buy how they imagine using them will make them feel” (Johnson & Wilson, 1984, p. 49). If you were selling somebody a car, you don’t need to come up with a well thought-out robotic pitch, however, you should find out what the person is looking for in the car. After that you can find how the car you are selling can provide that. By simply using skills that we were born with, anybody can be a great salesperson. It is about getting to know the customer and what they truly want rather than learning pitches and following a script.

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