by Jacques Werth
In my first sales job, I visited over 100 potential customers a week. Every time I walked into a company and asked to see the person who could make a decision to buy the kind of product I was selling, I did so with trepidation. Each time, it became harder and more nerve wracking.
When I occasionally got to talk to decision makers, I was uncomfortable just trying to build a little rapport with them. After 4 months, I had sold nothing, I was thoroughly discouraged, and I was ready to quit.
Then I got lucky. The top salesperson in the huge company that employed me agreed to let me go on sales calls with him. I learned a new way of selling by carefully observing how he worked. I also learned that his truly relaxed way of communicating set him apart from other salespeople.
He did not do any of the typical rapport building techniques that salespeople are taught. He knew how to control the conversation confidently without controlling the prospect. After watching him for a couple of days, I learned how to do that by practicing his way of communicating with everyone I met.
Five years later, I was a highly successful salesperson and managed my first sales force. Since that time, I have hired, trained, and managed hundreds of salespeople. Most of them exhibited the same kind of anxiety that I did as a neophyte salesperson, even after they had been in sales for years. I taught many of them how to be relaxed and confident, and they became much more successful.
Just as I did, people can learn to talk to almost anyone with confidence in their competence if they get the right kind of training and practice.